Visitation in Tennessee

The following is the text of Tennessee’s main statutes regarding visitation. For more specific information about visitation in Tennessee, please visit Herston on Tennessee Family Law. To schedule a consultation where you can discuss your specific situation, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Herston.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-301 (“Visitation”)

After making an award of custody, the court shall, upon request of the non-custodial parent, grant such rights of visitation as will enable the child and the non-custodial parent to maintain a parent-child relationship unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health. In granting any such rights of visitation, the court shall designate in which parent’s home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations and other special occasions. If the court finds that the non-custodial parent has physically or emotionally abused the child, the court may require that visitation be supervised or prohibited until such abuse has ceased or until there is no reasonable likelihood that such abuse will recur. The court may not order the department of children’s services to provide supervision of visitation pursuant to this section except in cases where the department is the petitioner or intervening petitioner in a case in which the custody or guardianship of a child is at issue.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-303 (“Visitation Rights of Stepparents”)

(a) In a suit for annulment, divorce or separate maintenance where one (1) party is a stepparent to a minor child born to the other party, such stepparent may be granted reasonable visitation rights to such child during the child’s minority by the court of competent jurisdiction upon a finding that such visitation rights would be in the best interests of the minor child and that such stepparent is actually providing or contributing towards the support of such child.

(b) Such decree shall remain within the control of the court and be subject to such changes or modification as the exigencies of the case require.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-306 (“Visitation Rights of Grandparents”)

(a) Any of the following circumstances, when presented in a petition for grandparent visitation to the circuit, chancery, general sessions courts with domestic relations jurisdiction or juvenile court in matters involving children born out of wedlock of the county in which the petitioned child currently resides, necessitates a hearing if such grandparent visitation is opposed by the custodial parent or parents:

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

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

(3) The child’s father or mother has been missing for not less than six (6) 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 (this grandparent-grandchild relationship establishes a rebuttable presumption that denial of visitation may result in irreparable harm to the child); or

(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.

(b) (1) In considering a petition for grandparent visitation, the court shall first determine the presence of a danger of substantial harm to the child. Such finding of substantial harm may be based upon cessation of the relationship between an unmarried minor child and the child’s grandparent if the court determines, upon proper proof, that:

(A) 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;

(B) 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 or emotional harm; or

(C) 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.

(2) For purposes of this section, a grandparent shall be deemed to have a significant existing relationship with a grandchild if:

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

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

(C) 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.

(3) A grandparent is not required to present the testimony or affidavit of an expert witness in order to establish a significant existing relationship with a grandchild or that the loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child. Instead, the court shall consider whether the facts of the particular case would lead a reasonable person to believe that there is a significant existing relationship between the grandparent and grandchild or that the loss of the relationship is likely to occasion severe emotional harm to the child.

(4) For the purposes of this section, if the child’s parent is deceased and the grandparent seeking visitation is the parent of that deceased parent, there shall be a rebuttable presumption of substantial harm to the child based upon the cessation of the relationship between the child and grandparent.

(c) Upon an initial finding of danger of substantial harm to the child, the court shall then determine whether grandparent visitation would be in the best interests of the child based upon the factors in § 36-6-307. Upon such determination, reasonable visitation may be ordered.

(d) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 36-1-121, if a relative or stepparent adopts a child, the provisions of this section apply.

(2) If a person other than a relative or a stepparent adopts a child, any visitation rights granted pursuant to this section before the adoption of the child shall automatically end upon such adoption.

(e) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, as used in this section and in § 36-6-307, with regard to the petitioned child, the word “grandparent” includes, but is not limited to:

(1) A biological grandparent;

(2) The spouse of a biological grandparent; or

(3) A parent of an adoptive parent.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-307 (“Determination of Best Interests of Child for Grandparent Visitations”)

In determining the best interests of the child under § 36-6-306, the court shall consider all pertinent matters, including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

(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 a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents, or guardian or guardians of the child;

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

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

(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.

Address

HERSTON LAW GROUP, PLC
507 South Gay Street, Suite 930
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: 865.971.3757
Fax: 865.971.3759

Our Practice