Has your family experienced a change in life’s circumstances causing you to become estranged from your grandchild? Well, in many states, grandparents have the right to petition a court for visitation, and sometimes custody, of a grandchild. When and what type of petition should be filed varies from case to case, and you should consult an attorney in your state to determine what rights you may have to obtain a court order to legally be able to spend the most quality time with your grandchild.
For example, in Mississippi, grandparent visitation rights were created by the legislature, and are outlined in the Mississippi Code Annotated, Title 93. Domestic Relations, Chapter 16. Grandparent Visitation Rights. http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/mscode/. In Mississippi, grandparents may petition the court for visitation rights if they are the parents of a non-custodial parent, a parent whose parental rights have been terminated or a deceased parent. A grandparent may petition the court outside of those circumstances only if there is a viable grandparent-grandchild relationship outside and if the grandparent has been unreasonably denied visitation. To prove a viable relationship, a grandparent must 1. provide part or all of a child’s financial support for at least six months, and 2. have frequent visits with the child, including overnight visits, for a period of at least one year. Overall, Mississippi will look to the best interest of a child to make a determination as to whether the grandparents’ petition should or should not be granted.
In Tennessee, grandparent visitation rights are also defined by statute, and are contained in the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 36. Domestic Relations, Chapter 6. Child Custody and Visitation, Part 3. Visitation. Tennessee laws are complex with regard to if grandparents should file a petition, and if so, what type of visitation rights they may be entitled to receive. If rights are requested by a grandparent and opposed by a custodial parent, a hearing is required only if the father or mother is deceased; the child’s father or mother are divorced, legally separated or were never married to one another; a parent of the child has been missing for at least six months; the child has resided in the home of the grandparent for more than twelve months, and has been removed by a parent; there has been a significant existing relationship between the child and the grandparent for the last twelve months, and this relationship was severed by a parent, not for reasons of abuse or endangerment; or if another state has ordered visitation. If one of these factors does not exist, the Grandparents do not have a right to visitation. If one of the factors does exist, the court will then determine if severing the grandparent-grandchild relationship will cause substantial harm to the child. Finally, as in Mississippi, Tennessee also looks to the best interest of the child with regard to each family’s set of circumstances. Tennessee courts look to what relationship the Grandparent have had with the grandchildren.
If you are in need of advice as to whether you should pursue your Grandparent rights or defend against Grandparent visitation, or any other Family or Juvenile law related matter, Daugherty, Haas & Associates can help. You can speak directly to Christina Daugherty at (601) 653-0708 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also speak directly to Kelli Haas at (615) 567-7304 or email her at email@example.com.