Often after parents separate the custodial parent tries to prevent the noncustodial parent from visiting the children. A parent's right to see his or her child is extremely important, and that right is statutorily protected in Tennessee. According to Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-301, a court must enable continuation of the parent-child relationship by granting a noncustodial parent's request for visitation, unless the court determines that visits with the noncustodial parent would result in emotional or physical harm to the child.
The Code sets out several rights that the noncustodial parent (or the custodial parent when the child is visiting the noncustodial parent) has. These rights extend to all parents unless the court determines that they would not be in the best interest of the child. The statutory rights include:
1. Unimpeded telephone conversations with the child at least twice a week;
2. Ability to send mail to the child without the other parent opening it;
3. Notice of any hospitalization, major illness, or death as soon as possible (but within 24 hours);
4. Access to school records;
5. Access to medical records;
6. No derogatory remarks made about the other parent in the presence of the child;
7. Forty-eight hour notice of, and the opportunity to participate in, all extra-curricular activities;
8. Receipt of an itinerary and emergency numbers from the other parent if the other parent leaves the state with the child for more than two days;
9. Access to and participation in education.
The parent-child relationship is highly regarded, and there must be a compelling reason to interfere with visitation that would foster the relationship between parents and their children. Noncustodial parents have the right to maintain a positive relationship with their children just as custodial parents do. If you are a noncustodial parent being denied court ordered visitation, you could have the custodial parent held in contempt and have the lost visitation time restored.