There are numerous facets to divorce cases that may seem overwhelming to you. The differences between visitation and custody in Chattanooga are necessary for divorcing parents to not only understand, but also incorporate into their parenting plans. To better acquaint yourself with these aspects to any divorce, speak with an attorney.
The difference between visitation and custody is that custody is more about decision making. In each parenting plan and in most juvenile court orders, there is going to be a section that delineates who has the ability to make important decisions in a child’s life, such as the child’s educational decisions, medical decisions, the decisions about what extracurricular activities they are involved in, and their religious upbringing. Judges generally lean towards parents jointly making those decisions.
Visitation is a little bit different in that it involves what the day-to-day schedule looks like. People may have parties that have joint custody or joint decision making but have unequal parenting time. A mother or a father may only have the ability to see their child every other weekend but are a full joint decision maker for the child.
A child can have a say in the visitation rights of a parent or other party only when they turn age 12. The older a child is, the more mature a child is, the more weight that opinion is given by the judge.
There are circumstances where younger children are able to speak with the judge with the Court’s permission. It is a private conference that the child has with the judge. If there are attorneys on the case, attorneys are present, but the court tries to prevent the children from being in any more of an uncomfortable situation they are already in.
The rights or responsibilities of a person with visitation rights is outlined in the parental bill of rights in Tennessee law and it is in TCA36-6-101. For example, they have the right to receive educational records and medical records for the child. They have the right to be informed if the child has any kind of illness or if the child is leaving the state.
The factors used to determine the amount of time given to a parent with visitation rights in Chattanooga are outlined in TCA 36-6-106. There are 15 total factors. Some examples are which parent has done the majority of the parenting responsibilities and any proof of one parent alienating another parent.
The amount of time granted to a parent with visitation rights can be renegotiated. Anytime there has been what the law says is a material change in circumstance, the court can do an additional best interest determination by looking at those 15 factors. A material change in circumstance can mean a lot of different things. One of them could be say a mother of a father had every other weekend visitation and a parenting plan but in the past couple of years, they have been doing 50/50 visitation. It might make sense to change the visitation plan to what they have actually been doing for a period of time. A material change in circumstance could mean that one parent may have moved. There is no black and white rule about what a material change might be, but every case is a little bit different. What people are typically encouraged to do is to talk to a lawyer about their set of circumstances and a well-trained lawyer can help them determine whether or not a material change has occurred.
If you need help navigating the legal process, understanding custody versus visitation rights in Chattanooga, or help drafting a case that can increase your chances of a favorable outcome, speak to an attorney today.