Grandparents often play a large role in a child's life, and it is a devastating situation when grandparent visitation is denied by the child's parents. Grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchildren can file a petition to establish their right to visitation. If the custodial parent or parents oppose the visitation, a hearing is required if:
1) Either parent of the child is deceased;
2) The child's parents are divorced, separated, or were never married;
3) Either parent of the child has been missing for more than six months;
4) Another state court has granted grandparent visitation;
5) The child has resided with the grandparent for at least 12 months and was removed from the home by either of the child's parents; or
6) The child and grandparent have had a significant relationship for the prior 12 months which was severed by the child's parents for reasons other than abuse or danger of substantial harm, and severance of the grandparent-child relationship is likely to result in severe emotional harm to the child.
Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-306.
The key to achieving grandparent visitation is establishing that there is a significant existing relationship between the grandparent and the child. A grandparent is deemed to have a significant existing relationship with the child if the grandparent was a full-time caretaker of the child for at least six months, the child resided with the grandparent for at least six months, or the grandparent exercised frequent visitation with the child for at least one year.
Grandparents seeking visitation should understand that they may have a legal right to exercise visitation with their grandchild if they can establish a significant existing relationship with the child, the severance of which would result in severe emotional harm to the child.