Tennessee Grandparent Rights: The Basics

I often get phone calls from concerned grandparents questioning whether they have any “rights” in Tennessee. Many are surprised to find that the answer is yes! There are two main paths I take when working with Grandparents to secure rights to children, and it depends on what the grandparent’s objective is: 1) grandparent visitation or 2) obtaining custody of grandchildren.

Tennessee Grandparent Visitation

Tennessee allows grandparents to file a petition seeking visitation with grandchildren under certain circumstances. Visitation rights are necessarily limited to specific situations because parents have the ultimate authority to decide who is allowed contact with their children. However, in certain situations, it is appropriate that a court grant grandparents specific visitation with their grandchildren. One of the main requirements before you can be granted grandparent visitation in Tennessee is that you are actually being denied access to the child or that you are granted so little time that it is essentially a denial of visitation with those children.

Here are common examples of when grandparent visitation may be established in Tennessee:

  • One of the child’s parents is deceased
  • The parents are divorced or legally separated
  • A parent has been missing for at least 6 months
  • Another state has granted you visitation
  • The child lived in the grandparent’s home for at least 12 months
  • The grandparent shared a significant relationship with the grandchild for at least 12 months

If you want to know whether you qualify for Tennessee grandparent visitation, contact our office to discuss your specific situation.

Tennessee Grandparent Custody

If you are concerned for the safety and well-being of your grandchildren, we may need to have a very different conversation. If the children are being abused, neglected, exposed to drugs, exposed to domestic violence or any other number inappropriate situations, Tennessee grandparents may be able to file a petition with the court seeking custody of those children. These types of cases are known as Dependency and Neglect cases in Tennessee, and the parents will be entitled to have counsel appointed if they are determined to be indigent.

If you are worried that your grandchildren are living in an unsafe environment, please contact our office immediately to discuss what can be done. In most of these situations, you can seek and obtain emergency custody of the children.

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