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Grandparent visitation and what the court requires

In Tennessee, if there is an existing court-ordered visitation for the grandparents, then a modification hearing will require that the parents and the grandparents satisfy the same legal standards. This ruling was by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2013 and the vote was unanimous.

This dramatically affected the way that modifications in Tennessee are handled concerning grandparents' rights. The supreme court reaffirmed earlier rulings that said that during initial legal proceedings to determine if grandparents will be awarded visitation, "parents are presumed to have superior parental rights." In order for grandparents to be awarded visitation, they must prove:

-- The parents do not want grandparent visitation granted,

-- The grandchild will suffer harm if the visitation with his or her grandparents is denied; and,

-- That grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child.

Parents have the presumption of superior parental rights in the first proceeding, but according to the supreme court's ruling, that principle doesn't continue on in later proceedings. The trial court ruling was agreed with on most counts by the supreme court. The supreme court, though, did not agree with the trial court's decision in finding the mother in contempt because she didn't let the grandparents see the child as was laid out in the initial visitation. The trial court also ruled that the mother must pay for part of the grandparents' lawyer fees. The supreme court said in its decision that the parents and the grandparents need "to refocus on how best to foster the welfare of the child."

As you can see, there can be a big obstacle when it comes to fighting for grandparent visitation; however, it is possible to win. If you want to pursue visitation for your grandchild, an attorney who is experienced in family law can help.

Source: tncourts.gov, "Supreme Court Ruling Puts Parents, Grandparents on Equal Footing When Modifying Grandparent Visitati," accessed May 13, 2016