The kinship bond between grandparent and grandchild can play an essential part in the life of a family. When birth parents are unable, for whatever reason, to manage the care and upkeep of their children, a grandparent is often the perfect solution. According to the Council on Aging, one in 20 children in Tennessee is being raised by a grandparent, and approximately 9 percent of children in Tennessee will live with extended family for eat least three consecutive months at some point in their childhood before they reach age 18. Whether the grandparents care for their grandchild after school, or have custody or guardianship of their grandchild, there are many resources in Tennessee to help grandparents in fulfilling this vital role in the life of a child.
Grandparents are often willing to step in and take over the care for their grandchild before they are willing to allow the child to end up in the foster care system and end up in the care of strangers. These situations may arise unexpectedly, leaving grandparents ill-equipped and un-informed about what is required to take on the responsibility of raising a grandchild.
Grandparents’ rights in Tennessee
In Tennessee, grandparents’ visitations do not become an issue unless the child’s parent objects. The court considers six factors when considering a grandparent’s petition for visitation or custody. If the child’s parents are deceased, divorced, separated or never married, and/or if the grandparents have an existing significant relationship with the child for at least a year and the loss of that relationship might be harmful for the child, then the grandparents may request a hearing. If the court in a different state has already granted visitation, then those grandparents can request a hearing.
Legal custody or guardianship?
Sometimes, a child will end up in kinship care placement in an informal agreement when the parent is unable to care for the child. However, in order for the child to be enrolled in school the grandparent would need to have custody or become a legal guardian of the child.
A grandparent can be appointed legal guardian for their grandchild, which essentially gives them the responsibility to make important decisions in the child’s life, they are responsible for the care, nurturing and education of the child, but they are not responsible for the child’s living expenses. Guardians can receive public benefits on the child’s behalf.
The Tennessee Council on Aging has published a guidebook called, Empowering Grandparents: A Guide for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren©. This downloadable booklet offers grandparents information and resources to support them in taking on the challenge of raising their grandchildren.
Your Knoxville family law attorney from the law firm of LaFevor & Slaughter can protect the rights of grandparents who want to be able to raise their grandchild rather than let them fall into the foster care system. A grandparent stepping in and caring for their grandchild can have a lasting, positive impact on the rest of the child’s life.
Working with a family lawyer is a good first step when you are a grandparent looking to get visitation or custody with your grandchild. Grandparents can schedule a consultation with a compassionate, Knoxville divorce attorney at LaFevor & Slaughter to discuss child custody and visitation issues in your case. Please contact us to find out more about how we can help you.
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As the Managing Attorney with LaFevor & Slaughter, Jason R. Hines handles new client consultations, strategic planning and implementation and represents clients in all the Firm’s practice areas.
As an attorney practicing law in Tennessee since 2009, Jason has represented clients from all walks of life in a wide range of cases in the State and Federal Courts of Tennessee. His practice areas include divorce, family law and immigration.