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Tennessee grandparents: petitioning for visitation rights to a grandchild

The relationship and bond between a child and his or her grandpa or grandma is often special and grandparents play a significant role in the lives of many Tennessee children. In cases where a grandchild's parents subsequently divorce or were never married and split-up, grandparents may fear that their access to a grandchild will be limited or prohibited altogether.

Thankfully, Tennessee is among several states that allow grandparents to petition for visitation rights to a grandchild. However, in order to do so, a grandparent must meet certain requirements. Additionally, as is the case in any child custody or visitation decision, the courts must determine whether or not granting a grandparent visitation is in a child's best interests.

Under Tennessee's grandparent visitation statute, in order for a grandparent to petition for visitation rights, one of the following six conditions must be met.

1. A grandchild's parents are divorced or were never married 
2. One of a grandchild's parents is deceased
3. At some point, a grandchild lived with his or her grandparent(s) for at least 12 months
4. The grandchild and grandparent(s) "maintained a significant relationship for 12 months”
5. A grandparent was awarded visitation rights in another state
6. One of a grandchild's parents has been missing for at least six months

Matters related to child custody and visitation are often highly emotional and can become contentious. This is often especially true in cases involving grandparents and visitation petitions as there may be hard feelings and animosity between a child's parent and grandparents. For these reasons, grandparents who are seeking to gain grandchild visitation rights would be wise to contact an attorney.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Grandparent Rights," April 24, 2015