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Do grandparents have a right to see their grandkids?

This time of year can be particularly difficult for grandparents when their adult child is divorced and their relationship with their former son-in-law or daughter-in-law is strained or non-existent. In most cases, divorced parents have a right to limit their children's contact with their grandparents or forbid it completely — at least when the kids are in their custody.

It might seem needlessly mean to keep children away from their grandparents and other family members on their co-parent's side of the family. However, if a grandparent is constantly berating or criticizing a parent in front of or directly to their children, it's only natural for that parent to limit their critic's access to their grandchildren to whatever degree they can.

In most states, including Tennessee, grandparents typically don't have a legal right to custody of or even visitation with their grandchildren unless one or both of the parents is unable to care for them. Here in Tennessee, grandparents can be granted visitation rights if at least one of the parents is deceased or missing or if they're divorced. They may be granted visitation if the child lived with or had a close relationship with the grandparent(s) for the previous year. Further, the visitation may only be granted if forbidding it would place the child in danger.

If both parents are alive and well and one of them simply doesn't want to make it easy for you to be around your grandchildren, your best course of action is to make the most of the time you have with the kids. Focus on what they want to do while you're together. Don't take sides regarding the divorce or criticize your child's former spouse. If you have contact with that parent, remain courteous.

If you're given time alone with the kids, don't abuse it. Make sure you pick them up and drop them off on schedule. Don't take them on trips or do anything with them that their parents haven't approved ahead of time. Once you've earned both parents' trust, you may be allowed more time with your grandchildren.

If you believe that a situation exists that warrants your seeking custody or visitation with your grandchildren for their safety and well-being, talk with a Tennessee family law attorney who can provide guidance regarding your rights and the best course of action.

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