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When a relationship falls apart, the rest of the family often feels the impact, particularly when the couple has children together. If your grandchild’s parent has limited your time with him or her after a breakup or divorce, you may have legal recourse in Tennessee. 

Read on to learn more about the circumstances in which grandparents can file for visitation through the state. 

Grandparent visitation 

As a grandparent who wants to request a legal visitation arrangement with your grandchildren, you can petition the court in specific instances: 

  • The child resided in your care for at least one year. 
  • One or both parents has been absent for six months or longer. 
  • One or both parents has died. 
  • You have had a familial relationship with the child for at least a year and it is in the child’s best interest to continue this relationship.  
  • The child’s parents did not marry one another or married but have since divorced. 
  • You have legal visitation with or custody of your grandchild in another state. 

You have the burden of proof when seeking grandparent visitation. That means you must show the judge that at least one of the factors above pertains to your situation or that the child will otherwise experience emotional harm at the loss of the grandparent relationship. 

Grandparent custody 

In some cases, you may want to seek legal custody of your grandchildren. This may be an option when: 

  • The parents are unable to provide a safe and healthy environment for the child. 
  • The parents have consented to custody. 
  • The parents have died. 
  • The child has already been living in your care for at least 12 months. 

When deciding on custody in these circumstances, the judge will look at your relationship with your grandchild, your age, your health and your ability to provide the necessary financial and emotional support. 

After you file a petition for visitation or custody, the court clerk will schedule a hearing. You will have an opportunity to present your case and argue on behalf of your relationship with your grandchild.