Custody & Visitation
In the normal course of divorce, or if the parties were never married, the Court will determine which parent should be named the primary residential parent and the other parent (the alternate residential parent) is awarded specific parenting time with the children to ensure that the parent-child relationship is maintained. The Court will also determine parenting time for holidays, school breaks, birthdays, and other important events. The right to parenting time can be revoked by the Court if it is found in any hearing that visitation may result in threats to the child’s physical or mental well-being. The Court may also order that a parent’s time be supervised by a third party if necessary to protect the child or children. Divorce is the result of incompatibility between two adults but it is often the child or children who are affected the most.
Under the laws in Tennessee the Court must consider numerous factors in making a custody determination and must always craft a parenting schedule that is in the best interests of the child or children. The goal of any parenting schedule is to maximize both parents’ time with the children and to allow the children a happy and healthy relationship with both parents.
Visitation, or parenting time as it is called in Tennessee, is established according to a Permanent Parenting Plan which becomes a Court Order when adopted and approved by the Court. The Permanent Parenting Plan sets out the daily or weekly schedule of the child or children and also establishes the schedule for holidays, school breaks, and summer vacation.
If the Court must create the Permanent Parenting Plan, the Court must seek to maximize the time that both parents are given with the child or children. However, if it is proved that either parent has been physically or emotionally abusive to the children or to the other parent, the abusing parent’s time with the children can be severely limited or restricted and the court may place strict restrictions on that parent’s time. The Court may also order parenting classes, anger management, or other counseling for the parent and/or the children.
Under the laws in Tennessee, there is no presumption that the Mother is the more appropriate parent to have custody of the children, even those children of “tender years”. Gender is no longer a factor in custody determinations in Tennessee and the Court will consider both parents equally and seek to maximize both parents’ participation in the lives of their children.