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Copyright (c) 1994 Memphis State University Law Review
Memphis State University Law Review

COMMENTS: Family Law--Hawk v. Hawk: Grandparent Visitation Rights--Court Protects Parental Privacy Rights Over "Child's Best Interests"

Winter, 1994

24 Mem. St. U.L. Rev. 413


Alicia C. Klyman


Bill and Sue Hawk, the grandparents of Megan and Steven Hawk, had an ongoing relationship with their son, Bob and his wife, Bay. 1 Bill and Sue Hawk visited their son and his family frequently, and they often acted as baby-sitters for the children who were allowed to spend nights with their grandparents. 2 Serious "rifts" and disagreements developed between the members of the Hawk family. 3 After a while, the relationship between the grandparents and the parents began to deteriorate, and ultimately ended in entrenched animosity. 4 When the parents refused to allow visitation, Bill and Sue Hawk sought court ordered visitation with Megan and Steven pursuant to the Grandparents' Visitation Act. 5 The trial court awarded visitation to Bill and Sue Hawk. The trial court did not find Bob and Bay Hawk to be unfit parents, but determined that a family conflict should not interfere with the children's relationship with their grandparents. 6 The Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. 7 The Tennessee Supreme Court held, reversed. 8 Where an intact, nuclear family with fit parents exists, granting of grandparent visitation over parental objection, absent a showing of substantial danger of harm to the child, constitutes an unconstitutional invasion of privacy under the Tennessee Constitution. Hawk v. Hawk, 855 S.W.2d 573 (Tenn. 1993).

At common law, no legal remedy existed for grandparents to visit the grandchild over the objection of the child's parents. 9 Parents merely had a moral obligation ...
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