A parent’s divorce or separation in Tennessee might alter a grandparent’s relationship with their grandchildren. Since most custody negotiations are between parents, the grandparent can be excluded from the proceedings unless they can prove that they have a significant existing relationship with the grandchild.
Understanding a “significant relationship” with the grandchild
In a child custody hearing, a grandparent may have a significant existing relationship if they satisfy the following criteria:
- The grandparent provided for the daily needs for physical care or support of the grandchild for at least six months.
- Grandparents had either frequent or continuous contact with or involvement in their grandchild’s life over an extended period of time.
- The child resided with the grandparent for at least six months.
- The child’s parents neglected or abused them, or they died.
In addition, the court must determine that it is in the best interests of the grandchild for them to establish a significant existing relationship. The judge will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis, weighing factors such as the child’s age and maturity level, previous visits or relationships with other family members and any exceptional circumstances that affect the child’s well-being.
What to do to protect your rights as a grandparent in Tennessee
The Grandparents Visitation Statute provides for grandparents’ rights in Tennessee and allows grandparents to obtain court-ordered visitation rights. The filing process is typically similar to that of the parents, only that the court must determine whether losing your relationship with your grandchild may harm them.
As a grandparent, you should understand your rights in Tennessee to protect a meaningful relationship with your grandchildren during divorce or separation proceedings. It is also important to remember that you may also seek visitation rights even if the parents are not divorced or separated.