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Legal Information: Tennessee


October 6, 2020

When can a grandparent file a petition for visitation rights?

A grandparent can file a petition for visitation in court if:

  1. the parent(s) or legal custodian:
    • won’t allow the grandparent to have a relationship with the child; or
    • severely reduced the grandparent’s relationship with the child; and
  2. any of the following are true:
    • the child’s father or mother died or has been missing for six months or more;
    • the child’s father or mother are divorced, legally separated, or were never married to each other;
    • the court of another state has ordered grandparent visitation;
    • the child lived in the grandparent’s home for at least twelve months and was removed from that home by a parent or legal custodian; or
    • the child and the grandparent had a significant relationship for at least the twelve months immediately before the parent or legal custodian stopped the relationship or severely reduced it. However, the petition cannot be based on this if the reason for stopping or limiting the relationship was abuse or danger of substantial harm to the child.1

Note: A “grandparent” is defined under the law as:

  • a biological grandparent or great-grandparent;
  • the spouse of a biological grandparent or great-grandparent; or
  • a parent or grandparent of an adoptive parent.2

1 TN ST § 36-6-306(a)
2 TN ST § 36-6-306(e)