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Court decision helps grandparents reunite with their grandchild

A recent decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court is giving two grandparents a renewed chance to continue their relationship with their grandchild. This decision sets a lower standard that must be met for changing visitation plans and makes it easier for relatives to adapt these plans when there are adverse family relationships.

Two grandparents who were involved in the life of their grandchild during her early years had a falling out with the child's parents. The grandparents then sought a court-ordered visitation plan. This was approved in 2006, but the grandparents later showed the court that their daughter-in-law was not allowing them visitations as ordered. They asked the court to change their visitation plan and looked to clarify the legal standard necessary to change such a plan.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, three judges at the appeals court level wrote different opinions on what the standard would be. The grandparents had to show that there was a substantial risk that the child would be harmed should the visitation plan not be altered. In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided that the plan should be demonstrated to be in the best interest of the child. This is a lower standard than the previous decisions had set forth. The court addressed the families, urging them to look at what is best for the welfare of the child and admonishing them for their uncooperative behavior.

Difficulties in familial relationships can cause rifts that can separate loved ones. When children are involved, this can prevent these relationships from forming from an early age and affect them for life. An attorney who has experience in child-related matters may be able to help to form a visitation plan that can work for all family members.

Source: Tennessean, "TN Supreme Court sides with grandparents on visitation", Tony Gonzalez, September 07, 2013

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