Can grandparents get court ordered visitation to see their grandchildren?

Under certain circumstances, yes.  The first question is whether one of the following conditions applies:

(1) The father or mother of an unmarried minor child is deceased;

(2) The child’s father and mother are divorced or legally separated, or were never married to each other;

(3) The child’s father or mother has been missing for not less that six months;

(4) The court of another state has ordered grandparent visitation.

(5) The child resided in the home of the grandparent for a period of twelve (12) months or more and was subsequently removed from the home by the parent or parents;

(6) The child and the grandparent maintained a significant existing relationship for a period of twelve (12) months or more immediately preceding severance of the relationship, this relationship was severed by the parent or parents for reasons other than abuse or presence of a danger of substantial harm to the child, and severance of this relationship is likely to occasion substantial emotional harm to the child.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(a).

If one of the above conditions applies, the court will then decide whether the absence of grandparent visitation creates the danger of substantial harm to the child.  In making this determination, the court looks for:

(1) The child had such a significant existing relationship with the grandparent that loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child;

(2) The grandparent functioned as a primary caregiver such that cessation of the relationship could interrupt provision of the daily needs of the child and thus occasion physical and emotional harm; or

(3) The child had a significant existing relationship with the grandparent and loss of the relationship presents the danger of other direct and substantial harm to the child.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(b)(1).

A “significant existing relationship” exists when:

(1) The child resided with the grandparent for at least six (6) consecutive months;

(2) The grandparent was a full-time caretaker for the child for a period of not less than six (6) consecutive months; or

(3) The grandparent had frequent visitation with the child who is the subject of the suit for a period of not less than one (1) year.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(b)(2).

Finally, if the court finds that the absence of grandparent visitation creates a danger of substantial harm to the child, the court will then determine whether grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child.  To do so, the court may consider but is not limited to the following factors:

(1) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent and the role performed by the grandparent;

(2) The existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent;

(3) The preference of the child if the child is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference;

(4) The effect of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child manifested before the child, and the willingness of the grandparent, except in case of abuse, to encourage close relationship between the child and the parent or parents, or guardian or guardian of the child;

(5) The good faith of the grandparent in filing the petition;

(6) If the parents are divorced or separate, the time-sharing arrangement that exists between the parents with respect to the child;

(7) If one (1) parent is deceased or missing, the fact that the grandparents requesting visitation are the parents of the deceased or missing person;

(8) Any unreasonable deprivation of the grandparent’s opportunity to visit with the child by the child’s parents or guardian, including denying visitation of the minor child to the grandparent for a period exceeding ninety (90) days;

(9) Whether the grandparent is seeking to maintain a significant existing relationship with the child;

(10) Whether awarding grandparent visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship; and

(11) Any court finding that the child’s parent or guardian is unfit.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-307.

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