Child Custody in Tennessee

Child Custody in A Tennessee Divorce

Where will your children live after the divorce?

Divorce is a tragedy for not just you, but for your child as well. The marriage is over. Now the process of building two separate households begins. Not just for you and your spouse, but for your child as well. In a divorce, decisions have to made as to when and where your child(ren)will spend their days and nights. Holidays, summer vacations, spring break. Who will make what decisions for the child? How will the child be supported financially? This includes health insurance, medical expenses and the like. All of these parenting issues that must be decided by either the parties or the court.

The Basic Process of Child Custody Decisions

If your divorce is uncontested you and the other parent make these decisions. Then the divorce lawyer prepares a Permanent Parenting Plan. Both parents will sign the parenting plan then the court will adopt it as an order of the court. If your divorce is contested these parenting decisions may be made in mediation or by the Court.


has become the preferred method used by the courts in Tennessee. Even in emergency situations, the court often orders the parents to emergency mediation. This may occur before or immediately after entering emergency custody orders. Ultimately, if an agreement can not be reached, the divorce Court will conduct a trial. At the trial the court will consider several factors about both parents. The best interest of the child is the ultimate question.

Joint Custody or Shared Parenting in Tennessee

In Tennessee the courts will generally award joint custody of the children to both parents. In fact, joint custody or decision making is the standard in Tennessee divorce. This is also referred to as shared parenting. Typically major decision making ability such as education, medical care, and the like is vested with both parents. But joint custody does not mean an equal split in parenting time. Joint custody does not necessarily provide that the children spend equal time with each parent. The law provides that there be a “Primary Residential Parent” and an “Alternate Residential Parent” In a standard parenting arrangement the children will spend approximately 80 days per year with the Alternate Residential Parent and the remainder of the time with the Primary Residential Parent. The parenting time is scheduled and set forth in the permanent parenting plan. Equal parenting time or 50/50 time is a possibility but it does not work for all situations. Discuss this issue thoroughly with your divorce lawyer

When Joint Custody and Shared Parenting Not Appropriate

There are times when joint custody is not appropriate for the children. When one of the parents is not a fit and proper parent to have custodial responsibility. Even when one parent is not fit and proper to exercise shared parenting time. Tennessee law provides guidelines for the courts to use in determining if a parent’s involvement with the children should be limited. Generally, such a situation involves serious issues. Including drug or alcohol problems, child abuse or unsafe lifestyle choices. Keep in mind that Tennessee law and the courts favor the involvement of both parents with the child. Depriving a parent of custodial rights or parenting time will not be taken lightly. It will not occur just because you don’t want the other parent involved, or disagree on parenting decisions. In fact, this type of reasoning could backfire and cause the offending parent to be limited by the court.

Tennessee Child Custody is Complicated Hire a Divorce Lawyer

In Tennessee, child custody arrangements are very complex. Child custody decisions and parenting plans involve many serious issues. Tennessee law requires the court to consider many factors when making child custody determinations. Don’t go it alone! Seek the advice of a divorce lawyer regarding child custody in Tennessee. Contact the attorneys of Purple Law Firm who are experienced in child custody issues as part of divorce or outside of divorce.

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