Brentwood, Tennessee, Child Custody Lawyers

No aspect of family dissolution is more daunting or heart-wrenching than the issues regarding child custody. How much time will you have with your child after the divorce? Who will have authority to make major decisions for your child? Where will your child live? Such questions will be addressed and ultimately determined by the legal process for child custody in the state of Tennessee. Due to the emotional nature of child custody cases, we strongly advise you to retain the immediate representation of a caring family law attorney who will help you navigate through the complexities of the legal system with a sense of ease and confidence.

Permanent Parenting Plan

Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 36-6-404, any final decree for divorce involving a minor child shall incorporate a permanent parenting plan, a written outline that will: (1) establish a primary residential parent; (2) allocate authority to one or both parents to make decisions regarding education, healthcare, and religious upbringing; (3) provide that either parent may make day-to-day decisions for the child while the child is residing with that parent; (4) minimize parental conflict; (5) provide for a child's changing needs; and (6) allocate financial support for the child. Custody can be decided at any point between parties, or a court can award temporary custody.

Parents do have the opportunity to amicably agree to a parenting plan. However, if they are unable to resolve parenting issues, the court will more than likely require them to attend mediation in order to reach an agreement. If mediation fails, and the parties cannot reach agreement on a permanent parenting plan on or before forty-five days before trial, each party must file a proposed parenting plan which includes a verified statement of income, a verified statement of good faith, and a verified statement that the plan is in the best interest of the child. At trial the court will then adjudicate a permanent parenting plan.

Types Of Child Custody

  • Legal custody - the right to make decisions for your child
  • Sole custody - one parent has legal and/or physical custody of a child
  • Joint custody - both parents have legal and/or physical custody of a child
  • Physical custody - the right to have your child live with you

Tennessee family courts adhere to the belief that it is essential for a child to have an ongoing relationship with both parents, that both parents should exercise parenting time with the child, and that both parents should be involved in parenting decisions. This arrangement is currently referred to as "shared parenting" or "joint custody." However, take note that the term "shared parenting" does not mean equal time with your child. Rather, "shared parenting" refers to equal participation of both parties in the ongoing upbringing of the children. A "primary residential parent" is the parent with whom the child will live more than 50% of the time. In actuality, the "primary residential parent" usually has the child most of the time, with the exception of every other weekend, holidays, and special events when the child resides with the "alternative parent." A 50-50 residential time schedule is not common.

A sole custody arrangement or termination of parental rights would only be granted under extenuating circumstances. A parent with sole physical custody is typically referred to as the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent may have visitation rights agreed upon by the parties or determined by the court. Sometimes, visitation may be supervised if the parent has a history of problems such as violence or substance abuse. The supervising individual can be court-appointed or chosen by the parties and submitted to the court.

Cole Law Group would love nothing more than to serve you and help you keep your children close. Our Brentwood divorce attorneys understand the various laws concerning child custody and how to advocate on your behalf.

Once a custody arrangement is determined by the court, it is very difficult to modify. The only grounds for modification are a substantial change in circumstances that affects the best interests of the child. Disputes over a residential schedule and allocation of authority can be expensive and time-consuming. Also, extending the instability of a child's life can be detrimental to his/her emotional well-being. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to initially seek legal counsel that you feel confident will protect your rights and those of your child.

Call 615-490-6020 to speak with a Cole Law Group attorney who focuses on child custody.