People going through divorce often fear what will happen to their children and how the divorce will affect their relationship. These are legitimate concerns, but the law tries to support each parent’s continuing relationship with both parents.
Knowing what to expect can help a parent manage their anxiety around custody issues. It could be helpful to know that Tennessee courts encourage parents to work together to establish a parenting plan, allowing them to have more control over their future.
A Red Bank child custody lawyer could provide valuable advice and guidance to someone trying to develop a custody and visitation plan with their co-parent. If the divorce reaches a trial, a tenacious family attorney could advocate fiercely for the custody arrangement that meets the parent’s goals.
In many states, courts favor parents sharing time with the children and decision-making authority as evenly as possible. The state of Tennessee is different. Tennessee Code §36-6-101(2)(a)(1) says explicitly that the law is neutral regarding whether joint custody or sole custody is desirable. Judges must decide based solely on the best interests of the children involved. However, if the parents agree to joint custody, the law presumes joint custody is in the child’s best interest.
The law does not favor either parent based on gender. Instead, the court focuses on which scenario best supports a child’s physical, emotional, psychological, and educational needs. Courts usually try to minimize the disruption that children face in a divorce. Factors a court might consider include the:
Parents engaged in a custody battle would do well to remember that the child’s best interest guides the judge’s custody decisions and should guide the parents. A dedicated Red Bank attorney could help a parent develop custody goals that support the children’s best interests.
Courts prefer that parents formulate a parenting plan together. The parents know their children and their needs best as well as each parent’s strengths and weaknesses. Thus, a plan the parents develop together is likely to meet a family’s needs better than one a court imposes.
Tennessee’s court system provides parenting plan forms that parents can use to formalize their agreement. The model plans require the parents to designate where the children will live most of the time or whether the parents will have joint physical custody. The plans require the parents to determine a holiday visitation schedule, agree on transportation arrangements, and consider who will make which decisions for the child. The model plan also admonishes parents to support their children’s love for the other and not disparage the other parent or their family.
If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan while the divorce is pending, each party must submit their own parenting plan. A court may order the parties to attend mediation sessions to reach a compromise. A proactive Red Bank child custody attorney could attend mediation with a parent to ensure they understand the provisions discussed and their implications. If the couple cannot agree, a court will often appoint a Guardian ad Litem or order an independent psychologist to evaluate the family and make a recommendation.
Sometimes a parent insists on sole physical and legal custody, meaning the parent makes all decisions regarding the child, and the child lives with them all the time—though, the other parent would likely have visitation rights.
However, sole custody limits a child’s opportunities to benefit from the other parent’s love, support, and guidance. Courts in the state of Tennessee will not award sole custody unless a parent could prove that it is in the child’s best interest because the other parent:
When a parent has a legally justifiable reason to seek sole custody, a diligent custody lawyer in Red Bank could present a vigorous argument supported by evidence showing that the other parent could be a danger to the child. Though, parents should be aware that Tennessee courts rarely grant sole custody—instead, they often opt to impose orders requiring supervised visitation or other means of protecting the child while maintaining the relationship.
Discussions around child custody might be the most emotionally wrenching aspect of your divorce. By keeping your children’s welfare first, you can make progress toward achieving your custody goals even if your co-parent is unreasonable.
A Red Bank child custody lawyer could advise you through every step of the legal process. Call today to schedule a consultation.