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Child Custody

Child Custody Attorney

Child custody decisions are among the most critical and challenging aspects of any divorce involving children. The questions of where the children will live, how parenting responsibilities will be shared, and the specifics of visitation and child support are central to developing a parenting plan.

At MHPS, our team of experienced child custody lawyers is committed to ensuring that your custody agreement safeguards the best interests of your children. With extensive experience as a child custody law firm, we offer the legal advice and support necessary to address your concerns and secure a favorable outcome for your family, both during and after establishing a permanent parenting plan.

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Child Custody Laws in Tennessee

Under Tennessee child custody laws, courts have the power to decide the “care, custody, and control” of a child, granting it to one or both parents. This decision is made after thoroughly examining various factors to determine what arrangement serves the child’s best interests. Should the court find that a parent has deliberately abandoned their child for 18 months or more, that parent’s role in the child’s life may be significantly restricted.

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The Types of Child Custody

In Tennessee, child custody agreements fall into two main categories: physical and legal.

  • Physical Custody: Determines the amount of time a parent physically spends with their child.
  • Legal Custody: Grants a parent the right to make significant decisions about their child’s welfare, including health care and education.

Child custody can also be specified as sole, primary, or joint custody:

  • Sole Custody: One parent is the sole caregiver and decision-maker for the child, with no legal obligation to consult the other parent.
  • Primary Custody: Designates one parent as the primary decision-maker for the child. While the noncustodial parent may contribute opinions, the custodial parent has the final say in the child’s upbringing.
  • Joint Custody: Both parents share custody and collaboratively make decisions regarding their child’s care and upbringing.

What Factors Determine Custody?

In Tennessee, the court considers a range of factors to determine custody and visitation rights while always keeping the child’s well-being and stability as its primary focus. These factors include:

  • The parent’s history of nurturing the child from birth.
  • The financial stability and future prospects of each parent.
  • The child’s adaptability to their school, community, and home environments.
  • Each parent’s capacity and willingness to maintain and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • The behavior and character traits of each parent.
  • The child’s preference, given significant consideration if the child is 12 years of age or older.

By considering these and other factors, the court aims to create an arrangement that best supports the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs.

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How Can a Parent Get Sole Custody?

In Tennessee, obtaining sole custody, referred to as the custodial parent, involves demonstrating to the court that such an arrangement serves the child’s best interests significantly better than joint custody.

A parent must present compelling evidence that they are the child’s primary caregiver or that the other parent’s involvement could detrimentally affect the child’s well-being.

This might include evidence of abandonment, inability to provide care, or harmful behavior towards the child. Legal guidance from an experienced child custody attorney can be invaluable in navigating this complex process and presenting a solid case for sole custody.

What Rights do Noncustodial Parents Have?

Noncustodial parents are entitled to specific rights to ensure they remain an integral part of their children’s lives, all under the framework of prioritizing the child’s best interests. These rights include:

  • Immediate notification, within 24 hours, in case of a medical emergency involving their child.
  • Access to their child’s school records and correspondence.
  • The ability to obtain medical records for their child.
  • The right to regular, unimpeded telephone communications with their child at least twice a week.
  • Protection for their child from hearing derogatory remarks about family members.
  • A 48-hour advance notice of any extracurricular activities their child is involved in.
  • The right to receive mail intended for them or their child without interference or censorship from the other parent.
  • Detailed travel itineraries when the custodial parent travels out of state with the child for more than two days.
  • The opportunity to be involved in and informed about their child’s educational activities and other related events.

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How to Petition for Child Custody?

Child custody arrangements are a crucial aspect of divorce proceedings for married parents or the establishment of a residential schedule for unmarried parents. In cases of divorce, child custody decisions are integrated into the divorce process. Unmarried parents seeking to establish custody must file a Petition for a Permanent Parenting Plan. Regardless of marital status, both parents are mandated to complete a parenting class.

When parents mutually agree on a Parenting Plan, it undergoes court review to confirm it serves the child’s best interest. If an agreement isn’t reachable, each parent must provide evidence supporting their proposed plan’s alignment with the child’s best interest, allowing the court to decide based on a comprehensive evaluation of relevant factors. A child custody consultation with an experienced child custody lawyer can help determine how to best present your plan to the court.

Our Nashville Child Custody Attorneys Are Here to Help

Successfully addressing child custody cases demands expert legal support to safeguard your rights and ensure the best outcome for your child. MHPS’s team of seasoned child custody attorneys is committed to delivering compassionate and effective advocacy for families in Nashville and surrounding areas.

If you need child custody consultation, contact MHPS today for more information.