Grandparents Rights In Tennessee (Updated) 2022 - (2023)

Many parents appreciate the assistance and support of a grandmother. A parent’s divorce or separation may alter the family structure and a grandparent’s engagement in a grandchild’s life. It can be surprising when a parent restricts or eliminates a child’s contact with a grandmother.

If you’re a grandmother seeking more time with a grandchild, it’s critical to know the laws in your state regulating grandparent visitation. Grandparent visitation privileges are recognized in every state. However, there are minor peculiarities. Grandparents rights in Tennessee are discussed in this article. After reading this material, seek legal guidance from a competent family law professional if you have any questions.

Do Grandparents Have Rights In TN

The right of parents to make parenting decisions on behalf of their children is protected under the United States Constitution. When grandparents and parents disagree, the wishes of the parents usually prevail. Grandparents, on the other hand, have the legal right to request grandparent visits if they can show that it is in the child’s best interests and that denying visitation would do the child genuine harm.

Grandparent visitation rights are not governed by federal law. The Troxel v. Granville case result is our country’s closest to a federal grandparent visitation statute. The United States Supreme Court clarified in Troxel that a judge must take into account a parent’s grounds for opposing grandparents rights in Tennessee for visitation.

Grandparent visits should also not be disruptive to the parent-child bond. While grandparents have some rights, they should not be allowed to infringe on the rights of parents. Most states have enacted grandparent visiting legislation that closely resembles the Troxel decision. On the other hand, Grandparent visitation laws varied from state to state.

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Grandparents Visitation Rights In Tennessee

Unless a child’s parent protests, grandparent visitation privileges aren’t a problem. Even then, a grandparent’s visiting request must meet certain criteria before a court considers it. One or more of the following elements must be present:

  • The parent of the child has died.
  • The child’s parents are legally divorced, separated, or never married.
  • The child’s parent has been missing for at least six months.
  • Grandparent visitation has been ordered by a court in another state.
  • Before his parents took him away, the child spent at least a year with his grandparents.
  • The child and grandparent have had a significant bond for at least 12 months, and if the grandmother-grandchild relationship is broken, the youngster would suffer.

A grandparent must prove that at least one of the above factors is present in order to obtain visitation with a grandchild. It is not enough for a grandparent to demonstrate that a child would miss their relationship with the grandmother in order to meet the last criteria of “harm.” A grandparent must show the following to prove actual harm:

  • The child had such close contact with the grandparent that if it ended, he or she would suffer great emotional distress.
  • For at least six months, the grandparent was the kid’s primary caregiver, and the child will feel a significant emotional loss.
  • The child is in danger or at risk of serious harm due to the loss of a relationship with a grandparent.

For example, in one Tennessee instance, the court granted grandparents significant visiting time due to the deep attachment between the grandparents and their grandchildren. In this case, the grandparents had a long-standing relationship with their granddaughter, and the child’s stepparent was attempting to cut ties with them.

The grandparent-grandchild relationship was so important that the child would be injured if it terminated. Thus the court authorized visitation. Nonetheless, the court ensured that the visitation schedule provided the child with much-needed time with his or her grandparents while causing the least amount of disruption to the parent-child bond as feasible.

In another Tennessee instance, the court refused a request for visitation by paternal grandparents. During his first two years of life, the grandparents paid weekly visits to their grandson. When the child’s father (and the grandparents’ son) died, the child’s mother cut off grandparent visits immediately.

Because the grandparents couldn’t prove that the child would be emotionally traumatized by the absence of contact with his grandparents, the court deferred to the mother’s parenting choice to deny grandparent visits. This case indicates that grandparents’ rights will always take second place to those of their children.

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Grandparents Custody Rights In Tennessee

In the same way that a grandparent might seek visitation, a grandparent can seek custody of a grandchild. A grandmother can file a custody petition when the following conditions are met:

  • The child’s parents are no longer married.
  • The child’s parents are no longer alive.
  • The parents have abandoned their children.
  • The youngster has been ignored or abused.

On the other hand, a grandparent can only get custody if the child’s parents are unfit or unable to care for the child. The child’s best interests, the grandparent’s ability to satisfy the child’s requirements, and factors proving parental unfitness will all be considered by the judge.

In one Tennessee case, a higher court overturned a lower court’s decision to give maternal grandparents custody. The father of the kid requested custody of the children, and the grandparents wanted custody of their grandchildren as well. Despite his failure to pay child support, the father was still a fit and stable parent who was entitled to custody of his children. The grandparents were given custody of the children since their father could provide their requirements.

Can a Biological Grandparent Obtain Visitation After A Child is Placed for Adoption

Any legal ties between a child and his or her biological parents or grandparents are severed when he or she is adopted. There are some exceptions when a stepparent or a blood relative adopts a child. If a stepparent adopts a kid, biological grandparents may still be entitled to visits under Tennessee’s Grandparent Visitation Statute.

A grandparent can have a big impact on a grandchild’s life. Grandparents rights in Tennessee for visitation is frequently shortened or eliminated when parents split or one parent dies. Under some conditions, grandparents in Tennessee have legal standing to seek visitation with their grandchildren. The child’s best interests will determine the breadth and frequency of grandparent visits.

What does a grandparent need to prove in order to secure visitation rights?

A grandparent seeking visitation rights must demonstrate to the court that denying visitation would cause significant injury to the child and that visitation with the grandparent is in the child’s best interests.

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These are legal requirements that are based on a variety of interconnected elements. The attorneys at Kidwell, South, Beasley, and Haley have a lot of experience with grandparents’ rights issues, so they know how to make the necessary showings to the court. We fight relentlessly for our clients’ grandchildren to ensure that they have a loving and supportive relationship.


Do grandparents have rights to their grandchildren in the state of Tennessee?

In-State of Tennessee, a child, does not need to have lived with the grandparent to have legal standing if the grandparent can demonstrate a substantial existing relationship with the child for at least one year and the parent chose not to allow the child access to the grandparent for reasons other than abuse or endangerment.

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The grandchild may suffer substantial emotional harm as a result of the loss of contact, especially if the grandparent was the child’s primary caretaker for a long time. Visitation rights are far more difficult to get in Tennessee if the grandchild has had little to no contact with the grandparent and has not developed a substantial bond with the grandparent.

What are the laws designed to protect a grandparent’s relationship with a grandchild?

When a child’s parents oppose visitation, grandparents in Tennessee have the right to petition the court for a visitation hearing in specific circumstances. These visitation privileges are restricted, but they can help grandparents establish a more meaningful relationship with their grandchildren when they are accessible.


Grandparents Rights In Tennessee (Updated) 2022 -? ›

In-State of Tennessee, a child, does not need to have lived with the grandparent to have legal standing if the grandparent can demonstrate a substantial existing relationship with the child for at least one year and the parent chose not to allow the child access to the grandparent for reasons other than abuse or ...

What legal rights do grandparents have in Tennessee? ›

In Tennessee, grandparents have legal standing to pursue visitation with a grandchild under certain circumstances. A child's best interests will determine the scope and frequency of grandparent visitation.

Under what circumstances may grandparents request visitation rights with their grandchildren in Tennessee? ›

Even if the parents are not living together due to divorce or separation, or if they were never married, the grandparents must be given a hearing on their petition for visitation. The grandparents also must receive a hearing if one of the child's parents has died or been missing for at least six months.

How can grandparents get custody of grandchildren in Tennessee? ›

A grandparent who is concerned about the safety of a grandchild has two options: File a dependency and neglect (D & N) petition in juvenile court in the county where the grandchild(ren) live seeking temporary custody. If at all possible, grandparents should hire a lawyer to represent them in a D & N petition.

What rights have grandparents got? ›

What rights do grandparents have? Grandparents do not automatically have parental responsibility. This means you do not have any legal rights to see your grandchildren. Unless there's a Court order in place, it is up to the parents to decide who their children see.

Do grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren? ›

The law does not give grandparents any automatic rights to see their grandchildren. So, in almost every case, parents can keep children away from grandparents if they choose to.

Can grandparents sue for visitation? ›

Can Grandparents Apply To The Courts For Access to Grandchildren? Only people with parental responsibility, for example parents, step-parents or guardians can make an application for a Contact Order.

Can grandparents get child support in Tennessee? ›

Yes. If a grandparent has a grandchild in their care, the grandparent can seek child support from the child's parents.

Can a child choose not to visit a parent in Tennessee? ›

In Tennessee, the child must be at least 12 years old. That would be the legal age at which the child could express a preference of a parent to live with over the other. Children should never be pressured to take sides or choose the more loved (or permissive) parent instead of the other parent (or disciplinarian).

How do I file for visitation rights in Tennessee? ›

Filing for Child Custody in Tennessee: 5 Steps
  1. Step 1: Determine your court. Either you or the other parent must have lived in Tennessee for at least six months before you can begin a case. ...
  2. Step 2: Complete your paperwork. ...
  3. Step 3: Finalize your forms. ...
  4. Step 4: Hand in your paperwork. ...
  5. Step 5: Service.

What is considered an unfit parent in Tennessee? ›

Tennessee Code on Parental Restrictions, Unfit Parents

The parent has engaged in willful abandonment that continues for an extended period of time. Physical or sexual abuse or a pattern of emotional abuse of the parent, child, or another person in the home has occurred.

How long does a parent have to be absent to be considered abandonment in Tennessee? ›

In Tennessee, a court may terminate parental rights based on abandonment if there is clear and convincing evidence that a parent willfully failed to support the child, willfully failed to make reasonable or consistent support payments, or willfully failed to visit the child for a period of four consecutive months.

Can a grandparent file for emergency custody in TN? ›

Emergency guardianship is something that a non-parent (such as a grandparent, aunt/uncle. Or close family friend) may seek if they believe a child is in immediate danger. Similarly, a parent may voluntarily grant someone temporary guardianship of a minor child if hardship prevents the parent from caring for the child.

What to do when you can't see your grandchildren? ›

The issue of whether or not visitation rights extend to grandparents is a matter for the family courts to decide. You may wish to consult with and/or obtain the services of an attorney who practices in the area of family law in your state.

How often should grandparents see their grandchildren? ›

According to her research, grandparents who live at a long distance tend to travel less often to visit and they stay longer, but the average number of visits that long-distance grandparents make each year is two to four times for trips lasting 5 to 10 days each.

Can grandparents get a child arrangement order? ›

If an application is successful, a grandparent will have permission to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. Once permission has been obtained, a grandparent will then need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

How do I gain access to my grandchildren? ›

Summary. Access for grandparents to their grandchildren should initially be sought through agreement with the parents or carers of the child. However, where this cannot be agreed, the grandparent can seek the leave of the court, and if successful, apply for a child arrangements order to agree access.

What is grandparent alienation? ›

Grandparent alienation is a situation where grandparents, for any number of reasons, are not permitted to have what society would call a 'normal' relationship with their grandchildren. In other words, they are alienated from their grandkids.

Can I stop my in laws from seeing my child? ›

Your partner cannot legally stop you from having access to your child unless continued access will be of detriment to your child's welfare. Until a court order is arranged, one parent may attempt to prevent a relationship with the other. If this happens, your main priority should be the welfare of your child.

Can a child share a room with a grandparent? ›

G. Children over the age of two shall not share a bedroom with an adult unless the local department approves and documents a plan to allow the child to sleep in the adult's bedroom due to documented needs, disabilities, or other specified conditions. Children of any age cannot share a bed with an adult.

When Should grandparents intervene? ›

If you notice your grandchild has a speech delay, motor problem, or difficulty with a social skill, it is important that you speak up. The problem could worsen if left unchecked, and early intervention is often critical to getting kids back on track, urges Amy Morin, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Lincoln, Maine.

What is the average child support payment in Tennessee? ›

One child: 6.81 percent. Two children: 7.22 percent. Three children: 7.77 percent. Four children: 8.05 percent.

How much back child support is a felony in Tennessee? ›

Also, non-support in Tennessee is a class A misdemeanor, and “Flagrant Nonsupport” is a class E felony. Flagrant nonsupport happens when a parent persistently fails to pay support for six consecutive months or owes more than $1000 in back child support.

What are the new child support laws in Tennessee? ›

Normal child support orders required a 15% variance. The change now requires all modifications, regardless of whether it is an order under Title IV-D, to prove a 15% variance.

Is TN A mother State? ›

Is Tennessee a mother or father state? Neither. Some fathers' rights activists may say it is a mother state because Tennessee does not have an equal parenting time presumption.

At what age can a child decide to stop visitation in TN? ›

Although a child can never decide issues relating to custody or visitation, Tennessee law requires a court to consider the wishes of a child over the age of 12 when making visitation related decisions.

What is malicious parent syndrome? ›

When this syndrome occurs, a divorced or divorcing parent seeks to punish the other parent, sometimes going far enough as to harm or deprive their children in order to make the other parent look bad. Though most commonly called malicious mother syndrome, both mothers and fathers can be capable of such actions.

What is standard visitation in Tennessee? ›

As a general descriptive term, “standard visitation” in Tennessee means a non-primary residential parent enjoys parenting time every other weekend during the school year, 2 weeks in the Summer, and sharing equally all other holidays throughout the year including Christmas holidays, Spring Break, and Fall Break.

Can you modify a parenting plan without going to court TN? ›

Changing or modifying your parenting plan or otherwise changing custody in Tennessee after a divorce requires asking the Court for a modification. In order to qualify for a modification of custody, the parent seeking the change must prove a change of circumstances which materially alters the child's well-being.

What is primary residential parent in Tennessee? ›

What does primary residential parent mean? In Tennessee, the term primary residential parent, or PRP, means the parent with whom the child resides more than 50% of the time. For other legal reasons, a primary residential parent must be declared even when parents share exactly equal time with their child.

What is considered child neglect in Tennessee? ›

Neglect - Failure to provide for a child's physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child's health or safety.

How do you prove malicious parent syndrome? ›

Diagnostic Criteria for Malicious Parent Syndrome

A parent unjustifiably punishes his or her divorcing or divorced spouse by: Attempting to alienate their mutual child(ren) from the other parent. Involving others in malicious actions against the other parent. Engaging in excessive litigation.

How can I prove my child is being brainwashed? ›

Ways That You Can Prove Parental Alienation in California
  1. Keep Detailed Records. You need records of every conversation and interaction with your child's other parent. ...
  2. Preserve Social Media Evidence. Make copies of all posts and comments made through social media. ...
  3. Identify Witnesses. ...
  4. Follow Your Family Lawyers Advice.
Apr 20, 2021

Can you change your child's last name without the father's consent in Tennessee? ›

To change the name of a minor in the State of Tennessee, both parents or legal guardians of the child must sign the petition and appear before the chancellor. A step-parent can only consent to the name change of a minor if the parental rights of the natural mother or father have been terminated.

What is considered abandonment in Tennessee? ›

For example, a parent who willfully fails to visit their child or make reasonable child support payments will sometimes be deemed to have legally abandoned their child. For the precise legal definition of abandonment under Tennessee law check out code section 36-1-102.

Is child neglect a felony in Tennessee? ›

Any person who knowingly abuses or neglects a child under eighteen (18) years of age, so as to adversely affect the child's health and welfare, commits a Class A misdemeanor; provided, that, if the abused or neglected child is eight (8) years of age or less, the penalty is a Class E felony.

What is grandparent alienation? ›

Grandparent alienation is a situation where grandparents, for any number of reasons, are not permitted to have what society would call a 'normal' relationship with their grandchildren. In other words, they are alienated from their grandkids.

Can a child choose not to visit a parent in Tennessee? ›

In Tennessee, the child must be at least 12 years old. That would be the legal age at which the child could express a preference of a parent to live with over the other. Children should never be pressured to take sides or choose the more loved (or permissive) parent instead of the other parent (or disciplinarian).

What are parental rights in Tennessee? ›

In Tennessee, an unmarried mother automatically has both physical and legal custody of the child until the father establishes paternity. However, once paternity is established, you have the same rights as any father does, under the law.

How do I get visitation rights in Tennessee? ›

The process for obtaining parental visitation rights is similar to that of other child custody matters. If the parents can agree on a plan, the court may approve it without the necessity of litigation. This type of plan should address a number of issues: The frequency and length of visitation.


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