Divorce can have a profound impact on everyone involved. For spouses, it can mean not only untangling their emotional ties, but also their financial ones. The outcome of divorce negotiations or litigation can dictate their financial stability post-divorce through issues of property division, spousal support, and child support. Yet, for many parents, the importance of these issues pale in comparison to child custody. After all, a child custody and visitation arrangement can change the way a parent interacts with as well as builds and maintains a bond with his or her child.
But in today’s society grandparents often play just as important of a role in a child’s life as his or her parents. Yet, when child custody issues arise through divorce or a family law dispute outside of marriage, a parent can threaten to cut grandparents out of their grandchild’s life. If you’re a grandparent in this situation, then you need to know the information listed below so that you can protect your interest, as well as the interests of your grandchild, to the fullest extent possible.
Under Tennessee law, grandparents must petition the family law court for grandparent visitation rights. In deciding whether to grant the petition, the court will consider a number of things, including the following:
- Whether cutting off the child’s contact with the grandparent will cause the child to suffer emotional harm.
- Whether the child’s basic needs will be threatened because the grandparent served as the child’s primary caregiver.
- Whether any other type of physical or emotional harm may be caused to the child by ceasing contact with the grandparent.
What is critical to recognize is the fact that, if one of the situation identified above exists, then the court will address grandparent visitation just like any other child custody issue, meaning that the decision will be focused on what outcome furthers the child’s best interests.
But what how does the court determine if something is in a child’s best interests? It looks at a number of factors:
- The child’s relationship with the grandparent
- The length of the child’s relationship with the grandparent
- The depth of the child’s emotional ties to the grandparent
- The child’s wishes with regard to continued contact
- The relationship between the grandparent and the child’s parent
- The grandparent’s ability to foster the child’s relationship with his or her parents
- The timesharing arrangements that are currently in place and how grandparent visitation will affect that plan
This is a lot to consider, which you might find overwhelming. But the good news is that with so many factors in play, there’s a lot of room to make arguments for your position. It can be a challenging battle, though, especially when a child’s custodial parents has a confrontational relationship with you. Yet, by being diligent in preparing your petition and gathering the evidence needed to support your request, you can better position yourself to achieve a desirable outcome. If you’d like to learn more about how to do that, then it might be wise to reach out to a family law professional of your choosing.