If you are a grandparent and one of your grandchild’s parents has limited the time they spend with you, you may be wondering if you have legal recourse. Grandparents in Tennessee may have the legal right to visit their grandchildren in certain situations.

Get to know the state’s grandparents’ rights laws to determine whether you may have a case.

Situations in which grandparents have rights

Tennessee courts will consider a grandparent’s petition for visitation in these situations:

  • The child has had a regular bond with the grandparent for at least 12 months and maintaining this bond is in the child’s best interest
  • One or both of the child’s parents has died
  • The child lived with the grandparent for at least 12 months
  • The child’s parents were never married or have separated or divorced
  • Another state has awarded you the legal right to visit your grandchildren
  • One or both of the child’s parents has been missing for at least six months

The grandparent must prove in court that at least one of the factors above is present, that the child will be subject to emotional harm if the relationship with you ends and/or that the loss of the grandparent relationship puts the child in harm’s way.

Filing for custody

For the court to consider grandparent custody, you must prove that the child’s parents have died, that they have consented to custody, that the child has already lived with you for at least a year and/or that the parents are not fit to raise the child safely. The court will consider your existing relationship with the child, connections with other family members and your age, health status and ability to provide financial support.

If you have concerns about whether your grandchild is safe with his or her custodial parent or you simply want to spend time with your grandchildren, seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. He or she can review your situation and determine whether you have a case.