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Child Custody & Visitation

Family Law Attorneys Assisting Individuals in Nashville

The decision to end a marriage is often filled with emotion and concern about what the future holds. This situation can be even more complicated when young children are involved. The family law lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard know the difficulties that individuals in the Nashville area often face when going through a divorce. We are dedicated to providing high-quality legal services during this stressful time. Our firm represents people who need assistance with child custody, visitation, and a wide range of related matters.

Child Custody and Visitation in Tennessee

Many issues need to be considered when parents with minor children decide to dissolve a marriage. Child custody in Tennessee is referred to as Parental Responsibilities, which includes both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the time that each parent lives with the child, while legal custody incorporates rights and responsibilities regarding critical decisions in the child’s upbringing, such as health care, schooling, and religious affiliation.

Under Tennessee law, both parents are encouraged to participate in their children’s lives, as long as the participation is in the children’s best interest. Custody and decision-making power are shared responsibilities, and state laws do not have a gender preference when it comes to these determinations. In Tennessee, visitation, or parenting time, is established by arranging a Permanent Parenting Plan. This document provides a daily and weekly schedule for a child, as well as what the parenting time is for holidays and breaks from school . Before issuing a divorce, courts require parents to participate in a parent education seminar as well as engage in a mediation session to try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. If the parents are not able to agree upon a plan in mediation, the court must make a schedule based on a child’s best interest. Once a Permanent Parenting Plan has been executed, it must be approved by a court and put into place through a court order.

Plans are constructed so that both parents’ time with their children is maximized in order to ensure that they have healthy and happy relationships with their parents. When courts must make a determination regarding a Permanent Parenting Plan, they must consider all relevant factors in deciding what is in a child’s best interest, including:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent;
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child regarding food, medical care, education, and clothes;
  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver;
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health;
  • Whether or not either parent has been abusive, either physically or emotionally, to the child or the other parent; and
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to perform parental responsibilities.

A court will also consider any reasonable preference of a child who is 12 years or older when deciding on a parenting plan. Child custody and visitation determinations can be emotional experiences, and they are often lengthy when decisions cannot be reached without court involvement. Consulting an experienced attorney who can proficiently assess and represent your needs in a divorce is an important asset in resolving complex family issues.

Legal Representation for Franklin Residents Seeking a Divorce

As you and your family try to establish your path into the future, you may wish to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, we have assisted individuals from Franklin as well as other communities in Williamson and Davidson Counties. Many of our clients have come from Brentwood, Bellevue, and Cool Springs. If you need legal assistance regarding child custody and visitation matters, contact us online or call us at (615) 800-7096 today.