Many people have fond memories of spending quality time with their grandparents. Grandparents often have a different set of rules that can be more relaxed than their parents’. Being spoiled by grandparents is almost synonymous with the grandparent–grandchild relationship.
So, what happens to these special and independent relationships when couples divorce or separate without ever being married? Both grandparents and grandchildren have rights, too.
Establishing substantial harm when petitioning for grandparents’ visitation rights
According to Tennessee Code Title 36 – Domestic Relations § 36-6-306, the following are ways to properly prove that substantial harm will come to the child if the relationship with grandparents is not maintained:
- Primary caregiver: If the grandparent was the one that took care of the child the majority of the time for no less than six consecutive months, then substantial harm could be caused without visitation rights.
- Residence: If the grandchild lived with the grandparents for six consecutive months, then the courts consider this a significant existing relationship. The end of this relationship could potentially cause substantial harm to the child.
- Visitation: If the grandparent was not the primary caretaker, and the grandchild did not reside with them, but they can prove that they had frequent visitation for a minimum of one year then the courts could establish the potential harm that would be done with denial of visitation rights.
There are many factors that the court looks to when determining grandparent’s visitation rights. What is in the best interest of the child is always at the heart of the court’s decisions.
To ensure the rights of grandparents to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives, and vice versa, it can be helpful to have guidance from a professional who is experienced in child custody and visitation in Tennessee.