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Can grandparents seek child custody and visitation in Tennessee?

The federal government allows each state to set laws about grandparent visitation. However, they require the judges in these cases to consider the parents’ reasons for prohibiting contact. In addition, grandparent rights may not interfere with parental rights. 

Review the factors that apply to request for grandparent custody and visitation in Tennessee.  

Eligibility for grandparent visitation

Tennessee allows grandparents to seek visitation only in the presence of at least one of these circumstances: 

  • The grandparent has shared a bond with the child for at least a year and the child would suffer if the relationship ended. 
  • The parents removed the child from the grandparent’s home after he or she lived there for at least a year. 
  • Grandparents have a visitation order from a court in a different state. 
  • The state cannot locate the parents for at least six months. 
  • The child’s parents have never married or have separated or divorced. 
  • The child’s parent has died.  

Otherwise, the court will preserve the parent’s right to decide whether to allow a relationship with grandparents. 

Other key factors

In addition, the grandparent must show that losing the relationship will cause the child emotional harm or put him or her in danger of physical harm. The grandparent must provide proof of the significance of the relationship or show that he or she served as the child’s primary caregiver for a period of at least six months. 

Grandparents can seek custody under the same circumstances as visitation. However, they must also demonstrate that the parents cannot provide appropriate care. The judge will determine whether grandparent custody serves the child’s best interests.