Disputes over visitation time with a minor child are among the most common reasons for litigation in family court. This may be because parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule during a divorce or because one parent wants to modify an existing schedule. Grandparents may even resort to litigation to secure court ordered visitation with grandchildren.
At Bennett | Michael | Hornsby we understand the highly sensitive nature of child visitation disputes. With that in mind, we are committed to helping resolve child visitation issues outside the courtroom when possible; however, we are also prepared to aggressively advocate on your behalf in court when necessary.
We are committed to assisting you in visitation disputes or modifications.
Call for a free consultation so we can step in and begin fighting for you.
Tennessee Visitation Rights
Tennessee law makes it clear that the parents of a minor child have both a financial obligation to that child as well as a presumptive right to parenting time (visitation) with the child. The parent with whom a child lives most of the time is known as the “Primary Residential Parent (PRP)” in Tennessee and the other parent is referred to as the “Alternative Residential Parent (ARP).”
A parenting time schedule is typically created during a divorce or paternity action if the parents do not live together. All decisions related to minor children, including parenting time issues, are made using the “best interest of the child” standard. The law starts with the presumption that it is in the best interest of a child to spend time with both parents; although it is possible to overcome that presumption. Ideally, the parents agree on an initial parenting time schedule that is then approved by the court. If the parents cannot agree on an initial parenting time schedule, the court must create a schedule.
Grandparents do not have the same presumptive right to visitation with minor grandchildren in Tennessee. If the child’s parents are living together, and they both agree that the child should not be allowed to spend time with a grandparent, courts will usually not consider a petition for grandparent visitation. Courts will consider a petition for grandparent visitation if any of the following apply:
- The mother or the father has died.
- The parents are unmarried.
- The parties are divorced or are legally separated.
- One parent has been missing for over six months.
- The child lived with the grandparents for a year or more and was then removed from the grandparents’ home by the parent or parents.
- The grandparent and the child had a significant existing relationship for at least one year before a parent ended or severely reduced the relationship for reasons other than abuse or a danger of substantial harm to the child.
- Another state says that the grandparent has visitation rights
Modification of Visitation
Although the original parenting time schedule issued by the court is considered a final order of the court, it is common for a parent (or both parents) to want to modify that order at some point down the road. It is possible to modify visitation; however, it is important to understand that until the court approves a modification, the original schedule remains intact and failing to abide by the schedule could be considered contempt of court. If only one parent wants to modify the parenting time schedule, that parent must show a change in circumstances that warrants the change, and the change must be in the best interest of the child.
The Murfreesboro visitation attorneys at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby are committed to assisting parents or grandparents involved in visitation disputes or modifications. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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