Session Date: August 9, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Greene County No. 14CV465AEP
Douglas Jenkins, Chancellor Sitting By Interchange
Chamberlain ("Grandmother") sued Myra Danielle
Brown ("Mother") seeking to be awarded grandparent
visitation with Mother's child Talan B. ("the
Child") pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-306.
After a trial, the Circuit Court for Greene County ("the
Trial Court") entered its judgment awarding Grandmother
visitation with the Child after finding and holding,
inter alia, that Grandmother had proven that Mother
had denied visitation, that Mother had failed to rebut the
presumption that denial of visitation may result in
irreparable harm to the Child, that Grandmother and the Child
had a significant existing relationship, and that visitation
was in the best interest of the Child. Mother appeals to this
Court. We find and hold that the evidence does not
preponderate against the Trial Court's findings, and we
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed Case Remanded
Collins, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Myra
Hensley, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Monica
MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR. and THOMAS R. FRIERSON, II, JJ.,
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE
is the paternal grandmother of the Child. When the Child was
born, Mother, the Child's father, Devin B.
("Father"), and the Child lived with Grandmother.
Mother, Father, and the Child lived with Grandmother for more
than two and a half years. In August of 2011, Mother, Father,
and the Child moved out of Grandmother's house.
and Father were arrested in March of 2012. The Child was
found to be dependent and neglected, and the Child's
maternal grandparents were given custody of the Child.
Grandmother intervened in that suit and was granted
visitation with the Child. During the autumn of 2013, Mother
regained custody of the Child. An order was entered, however,
denying Father any contact with the Child.
November of 2014, Grandmother filed the instant suit
alleging, in part, that Mother had denied Grandmother
visitation with the Child and that Grandmother was entitled
to visitation pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-306.
The case was tried without a jury in June of 2015. The Child
was almost six years old at the time of trial.
testified that when the Child was born Mother, Father, and
the Child lived with her. Grandmother stated: "I helped
care for [the Child] and play with him and develop a
realtionship with him. We bonded very closely."
Grandmother stated that the Child and his parents lived with
Plaintiff "[f]or over two and a half years."
Grandmother testified that she would babysit and play with
the Child. She admitted she never was the Child's sole
admitted that she knew that Father had issues with drugs, but
stated that she was unaware that Mother also had issues until
both Father and Mother were arrested. Grandmother explained
that when Father and Mother were arrested, the Child's
maternal grandmother took custody of the Child. Grandmother
intervened in that suit, was granted visitation with the
Child, and exercised her visitation regularly. During the
time that the Child was in the custody of the maternal
grandmother, Grandmother would have visits with the Child
every other week for a twenty-four hour period.
autumn of 2013, Mother regained custody of the Child.
Grandmother stated that Mother "allowed me to see [the
Child] for a few times [after Mother regained custody], and
then it stopped." Grandmother testified that she was
unable to contact Mother because Mother's phone number
had changed. Grandmother explained that when she was able to
have visits with the Child, she set up the visits by texting
Mother. Grandmother also attempted to text the Child's
maternal grandmother, but received no reply. Grandmother then
filed the instant suit. Grandmother testified that she is
requesting one weekend a month visitation with the Child.
stated that initially the judge asked the parties to try to
work things out. Grandmother stated:
Again, [Mother] allowed me to see him a couple of times, the
first time at McDonald's, and it was supervised because
[Mother] and her sister were there. It had been about five
months since I had seen [the Child], and when he saw me, he
ran to me and latched on and, you know, cried, "Mamaw,
where have you been? I've missed you so much." It is
very difficult not to be able to see him.
And then as we were sitting there and playing, and [Mother]
and her sister were sitting in the booth next to us, he said,
"Mamaw, can I come live with you?" Of course, I
wanted to say yes, but I said, "Well, wouldn't you
miss your mom?", and he said, "Well, can't she
last time Grandmother saw the Child was approximately one
year before trial. Grandmother testified that since that time
she has tried calling and texting Mother but has received no
response. Grandmother also tried texting the Child's
maternal grandmother but again received no response.
was unsure where her son, Father, was residing at the time of
trial. She stated that the last place she knew of was at
Greeneville Terrace where he had been living with his
girlfriend. Grandmother testified that her son has not lived
with her for more than a year. She stated "there has
been time when he has stayed a night or two, but he does not
- - has not lived in my home for quite some time." When
asked if Father ever just showed up at her house, Grandmother
stated: "No." She further stated:
He did once, asked if he could stay the night, and I told him
yes. I didn't have any kids in the home. I didn't
have - - there was no reason other than him just not having a
place to sleep that night that I allowed him to. But I am in
complete agreement that he does not need to see nor does he
deserve to see [the Child].
was questioned about a text she sent to Mother asking when
Father could see the Child, and Grandmother stated:
I think that was more in reference to when would he ever be
allowed to see im [sic] again, not can he see him right away.
I knew [Father] had drug issues for some time, and I am
completely in agreement that he does not need to nor deserve
to see him because of his own choices.
regard to this text, Grandmother further stated:
You know, it's a mother's hope that her son will do
better and be better. . . . I mean it was a question to her
of at some point is he ever going to be able to see his son,
and that wouldn't have been, oh, just on a whim. It would
have been through the Court. You know, I would have done
things properly, but it's a mother's hope that her
son will be better and be able to see his son.
asked if she could understand how such a text might cause
Mother concern, Grandmother stated:
Well, yeah, sure. I can - - you know, hindsight is 20-20,
but, you know, it -- when your son is in tears because he
can't see his own son. Well, like I said, it's a
mother's hope that her son will do better and be better,
but he's proven otherwise. I'm in complete agreement
with that he does not need to see him.
testified that the Child never saw Father when the Child was
with Grandmother. Grandmother acknowledged that there was a
no contact order prohibiting Father from having any contact
with the Child. She stated: "There was one time I had -
-I had told him I was going to get [the Child], and when I
got home, he was there. Now [the Child] did not see him, but
I said, 'You need to leave, ' and I thought he had
left." This incident happened approximately a year and a
half before trial. Grandmother explained further stating:
[Father] was home at that point, and I had [the Child] on my
shoulder. I had a blanket over him. I don't know if it
was cold or rainy or whatever it was, but when I saw him, I
said, "You can't be here. You've got to
go." . . . Well, he went down the steps. I have a split
foyer. So he went down the stairs through the ...