Child Custody

Child Custody During and After Divorce

Of all the areas in family law, child custody cases tend to be the touchiest. When parents divorce or separate and they have disputes about what is in their child’s best interest, the courts intervene. This can often turn an uncontested into a contested divorce, and an attorney is invaluable in sorting these issues out. As a parent, you want to make sure that your child is protected. Having a skilled Tennessee child custody attorney can make a world of difference in the outcome of your case. At the Law Offices of Danny C. Garland, II, we aim to help our clients fight for their child’s best interest.

It is also possible to change the custody and visitation arrangements made by a previous Court’s Order after the divorce is final.  The parent seeking to change that Parenting Plan must be able to show a “material change in circumstances”.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has said that  a “material change in circumstances” would be some event or condition that is not anticipatable by the parties at the time the last order was entered.  Typically, these are cases where one party has either physically abused the child or allowed another person to do so.  It can also occur when one parent has been so psychologically abusive to the child that it becomes a danger to their mental health or well-being.  Once this threshold is met, the Court may then consider what is in the best interests of the child, whether it be equal time, standard co-parenting time, or no time at all.   

At our firm, we take on cases and legal matters throughout East Tennessee. No matter how complex or difficult your divorce may seem, a lawyer at our firm can help. We understand what you are going through and will provide you with the legal support and representation you need in order to work out the child custody and child support issues you are facing.

Child Custody Cases in Tennessee

Child custody refers to the legal guardianship involved in a divorce case. In Tennessee and most other states, there are two forms of custody, legal and physical.

  • Legal custody refers to the child’s lifestyle. Religious, medical, and educational decisions are made by the legal custodian(s). Legal custody can be granted to one or both parents.
  • Physical custody refers to where the child lives. One parent may have sole physical custody, and the other may have visitation rights. Or, both parents may have physical custody, which means the child lives with each parent half of the time.

If a parent has visitation rights, the visits between parent and child are detailed on a Permanent Parenting Plan submitted to the court.

The Best Interest of the Child: Child Custody Court Decisions in Tennessee

When a child custody case is brought to the court, the court will try to accommodate the best interest of the child and choose the environment that offers the most stability. Some factors courts will take into consideration in a child custody case are:

  • The child’s age, sex, and mental and physical health
  • The parent’s mental and physical health
  • The parent’s lifestyle
  • Any history of child abuse
  • The emotional bond between the parent and child
  • The parent’s ability to provide the child with food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
  • The child’s regular routine
  • The quality of the child’s education
  • The child’s preference, if the child is above a certain age (this is usually around age 13, with some input allowed if the child is 8 or older)
  • The ability and willingness of the parent to encourage communication and contact between the child and the other parent

The court may also conduct a Child Custody Evaluation. An evaluation usually consists of interviews, psychological exams, and analysis of the children, the parents, and sometimes other persons who may have a significant impact on the child’s day-to-day life, such as grandparents.

  • The court has the ability to deny a parent’s request for an evaluation.
  • Parents will be liable for the cost of the evaluation.  That obligation will be apportioned by the court, but is usually divided equally unless one party is a dependant spouse. 

We know how contentious child custody cases can be. We also know that the best solution is usually a decision that is agreed upon by both parents and the child. By providing you with up to date legal knowledge and the best advice possible, your lawyer at our firm can make the custody decisions much easier for you and your family to make.

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