In difficult family circumstances, grandparents may consider seeking legal visitation with their grandchildren. Tennessee courts grant visitation rights to grandparents only in specific circumstances.
Review the factors that govern grandparent rights in Tennessee.
Availability of visitation
Tennessee courts will consider granting visitation rights only if:
- The child has shared a bond with the grandparent for at least a year and ending this relationship would cause the child emotional harm.
- The child lived with the grandparent for a year or longer.
- The grandparent has successfully obtained legal visitation rights in another state.
- The parent’s whereabouts have been unknown for six months or longer.
- The child’s parents were never or are no longer married.
- The child’s parent has died.
In addition to proving at least one of the factors above, a grandparent seeking legal visitation must show that the end of the relationship will harm his or her grandchild. He or she may present evidence to show the significance of the relationship and demonstrate his or her actions as a primary caregiver for at least six months. The grandparent may also produce evidence of concerns that the end of the relationship would place the child at risk of serious physical harm.
When the Tennessee court orders grandparent-grandchild visitation, the judge will ensure that the arrangement does not interfere with the parental relationship. In certain cases, grandparents may wish to seek physical custody of grandchildren. Tennessee allows this type of arrangement if both parents died, the parents have divorced, or the parents have a history of domestic violence, neglect or abuse.