Child Custody

Child custody can be an overwhelming topic for parents. In Tennessee, child custody laws are used to guide custody determinations. The laws are designed to ensure the children’s best interests are protected in all cases. There are numerous factors the court takes into consideration when determining the appropriate custody arrangement for each case.

Some factors taken into consideration include:

  • The ongoing relationship the child has with each parent or caregiver
  • The child’s preference if they are over twelve years of age
  • The means and ability of each parent to care for the child
  • Arrest records, history of violence, or neglect
  • The ability and likelihood of each parent to encourage and nurture the relationship between the child and their other parent

The judge will take these, and several other, factors into consideration when determining custody. Circumstances involving mental health problems or physical illnesses may have a dramatic impact on a custody determination as well.

If you are involved in a child custody case, it is important to realize that these orders are not permanent. These orders can be revisited at any time if new circumstances arise. If you are not satisfied with your current custody order, contact Griffin & Davis, PLLC today to schedule a free consultation to get started on earning you more custody rights and time with your children.

Emergency Situations

If there is ever an emergency, such as the arrest or investigation of one parent, it is imperative that you take all legal avenues available to protect your child. This can include filing a request for an emergency order.

When granted, an emergency request creates an Ex-Parte Order. This is a temporary order granting the filing parent rights to withhold the child from the accused parent. These orders are granted without notice of a hearing and are usually only issued under extreme circumstances. Given that these orders are temporary, a party will have to notify the responding parent of a future hearing in which the order can be removed or made permanent.

Move Away Orders

Unfortunately, there are cases where one parent seeks to relocate with the child to another county or state. This can complicate child visitation and disrupt the child’s life. In these situations, parents are required to file a written notice to the other parent in advance of the proposed move. The other parent is then given the opportunity to object to the move. The parent will be required to file a request in court to argue why the child should not relocate.

When a parent relocates over one-hundred miles from their residence, it can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to exercise their visitation rights. It is imperative that you work to protect your rights if you are presented with a move-away request from your child’s other parent. Contact the attorneys of Griffin and Davis, PLLC as soon as possible so we can get to work for you in your custody case.

Visitation Schedules In Custody Orders

In addition to custody orders, Tennessee courts establish reasonable-visitation schedules that reflect the child’s best interests. There are three different types of visitation schedules that are ordered.

  • Residential Schedule:This type of schedule specifies where the child’s primary residence is and provides a regular schedule for how the child will spend time with each parent on an ongoing basis.
  • Holiday Schedules: These schedules are used to determine how birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions are spent. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, extended weekends, and other special events are typically rotated each year or spent with the designated parent (e.g., with the mother on Mother’s day and father on Father’s Day). Holiday breaks can be split between both parents, rotated annually, or have other established rotations.
  • Vacation Schedules: These schedules often demonstrate where a child will remain during extended breaks from school. This often includes summer and winter vacations, but can also include scheduled vacations with either parent.

It is important for parents to make their parenting schedule consistent with the child’s age and development level. Schedules should further reflect the family’s social and economic circumstance.  It should also encourage each parent to maintain a stable and nurturing relationship with the child throughout the entire year.

Frequently Asked Child Custody Questions

Dealing with a child custody case is often overwhelming for parents. The fact that their rights to see their children, or have their children live with them, is in the hands of someone else is often difficult to deal with. For this reason, parents often have several questions surrounding child custody in courts. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions parent have.

Who Will Get Custody Of Our Child?

If parents can come to an agreement, they jointly decide who will have custody of the child. When parents are unable to decide, the court will determine what custodial arrangements are in the best interest of the child. Generally, courts will determine which parent is likely to protect the best interest of the child by ensuring frequent and ongoing communication with both parents. If you are trying to gain custody of your child, it is imperative that you speak with a reputable family law attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected. The attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC will work diligently to ensure that they are able to present the best possible case in court.

What Is “Joint Custody” and “Sole Custody”?

In Tennessee, we have both physical and legal custody for children. Physical custody is a term that is used to describe where the child lives. Legal custody is a term applied to who can make decisions regarding the child’s education, health, and welfare.

Each of these types of custody can fall under a joint or sole custody order. When parents are given joint custody, they share both legal and physical responsibilities of the child. When parents are given sole custody, they are charged with all of the legal decisions of their child as well as providing a residence for the child to live.

In some cases, a parent can be granted joint physical custody and sole legal custody, or vice versa. This enables parents to share a child equally in one aspect while taking control over the other.

If Parents Share Custody, Does Anyone Pay Child Support?

Whether a parent is required to pay child support depends on the specific circumstances of each case. In Tennessee, parents can collect child support even if they share custody of the child. Child support is typically calculated on how much a person will pay to support a child for half a year. As such, the high earner will pay the low earner an amount in child support that acts as a way of leveling the financial resources.

Parents are not able to deny visitation on the basis that child support is not paid. These two issues are different and independent of one another. If a parent is not paying support, the receiving parent should file a petition for contempt instead of denying visitation.

Can My Child Decide Who They Want To Live With?

Under Tennessee statute, courts can consider the preference of children over twelve years of age. The judge will speak with them directly to see which parent they prefer to live with. While courts can speak with children under twelve, they are not required to do so.

The child’s preference is only one factor taken into consideration in determining the child’s best interest. Just because a child prefers to live with one parent over the other does not guarantee that they will be able to. If your child has openly expressed that they want to live with you, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer to argue your case for you in court. Call the attorneys of Griffin & Davis, PLLC today to set up a consultation with one of our qualified and skilled child-custody attorneys to have all of your questions answered.

When Can I Modify Custody?

A parent can request for a modification of the custody order at any time after the order is made. To file a successful petition, the filing parent must be able to show that a change in circumstance has occurred. The change must be material and substantial. Further, the change must be something that directly affects the child’s best interests.

In order to file a successful modification request, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced family law attorney in Tennessee. Although attorneys are unable to guarantee any outcome in your case, working with one will ensure all legal avenues are explored and exercised in your legal argument.

Hiring An Attorney Will Help You Win Your Custody Case

The attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC have extensive experience representing clients throughout custody and visitation cases. We take great pride in our ability to identify the most pragmatic and efficient solutions for our clients to get them the results they desire.

Our attorneys help clients work through challenging issues and compromise with one another in order to achieve a well-balanced solution. We are ready to strategize on behalf of our clients and work as advocates when parents are unable to come to an agreement.

Nobody wins in cases where children are used as pawns or weapons against the other parent in a divorce.  We directly service Sparta, Kingston, Crossville, and Cookeville with offices in each.  We also handle matters in the surrounding regions. Contact us today at 931-837-2050 or 865-354-3333 to schedule a consultation so we can get started on your case.