Child Custody Attorneys in Germantown & Somerville
Get Help with Your Parenting Plan in West Tennessee
Creating a parenting plan is one of the most difficult aspects of divorce. Even if you and your co-parent were never married, creating a child custody arrangement that works for both parents can be challenging. Fortunately, our Germantown child custody lawyers at Snider & Horner, PLLC are here to help.
Like Tennessee courts, we prioritize the best interests of children and help ensure your child or children are not hurt by your divorce or separation. Whether you want to obtain sole custody of your child or create or modify an effective parenting plan, look no further than our firm.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
According to the Tennessee Courts System, a parenting plan is a “way for divorcing (or even divorced) parents to plan for the parenting of their children after a divorce.” Nevertheless, parents can establish a parenting plan even if they have never been married – as long as both parents are recognized by the court and need help resolving a disagreement. Often, we help new, unmarried parents craft parenting agreements soon after a father establishes paternity and expresses a wish to be involved in their child’s life.
Tennessee uses the term, “parenting plan” instead of legal concepts like “custody” and “visitation” to promote cooperation and goodwill between parents. After all, everyone’s goal should be the same – acting in the best interest of the child – and in most situations, children do best when they receive the emotional and financial support of both parents.
Your parenting plan is a shared tool that can help you and your co-parent share parenting responsibilities.
How Do I Get Sole Custody of My Child in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, “sole custody” occurs when the parenting plan favors one parent. Because Tennessee courts avoid words like “custody,” and “visitation,” the parent who spends more time with the child is called the “primary residential parent.”
Generally, the child lives with the primary residential parent and spends time with the other parent according to a residential schedule, which may or may not include overnight stays. The non-residential parent usually pays child support.
The residential schedule is part of the parenting plan, and the parenting plan is designed to let both parents stay involved in their child’s life. In parenting plans, both parents remain involved in major decisions regarding education, religion, and medical care, but the primary residential parent gets the last word in disputes. Each parent can make urgent decisions on their child’s behalf when their child is in their care.
What If I Believe My Co-Parent Should Not Be on the Parenting Plan?
Of course, there may be situations in which one parent is unable to be safely involved in their child’s life. When this is the case, the court will limit that parent’s involvement with the child via the parenting plan.
All decisions about child custody are included in the parenting plan, and each parent will remain on the parenting plan unless one parent loses their parental rights.
Non-residential parents still have the right to regular communication and some decision-making responsibilities, and judges do not terminate parental rights lightly. Any exceptional circumstances should be noted on your parenting plan.
If you want “sole custody,” you will need to make sure your parenting plan and residential schedule favor you. In serious situations (such as child abuse or domestic violence), you may need to ask the court to suspend or remove your co-parent’s parental rights.
Snider & Horner, PLLC can help you become the primary residential parent and protect your family in cases of violence or abuse.
How Does the Court Make Child Custody Decisions in Tennessee?
The court will not make any child custody decisions if you and your co-parent can draft a parenting plan outside of court. Generally, Tennessee courts prefer to approve the parenting plans that parents draft together outside of the courtroom.
If you and your co-parent cannot agree, and the court must decide, the judge will consider factors like:
- Each parent’s relationship with the child
- Who handles more of the childcare responsibilities
- How well the child will adjust to a new residential schedule
- The importance of continuity in the child’s life
- Each parent’s moral, physical, mental, and emotional fitness
- Each parent’s work schedule
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
- The child’s reasonable preference (for children ages 12 and up)
Generally, the court will not name a parent with a history of committing domestic violence or child abuse as a primary residential parent. If you prove that abuse has occurred, the court will take steps to protect you and your child.
Barring exceptional circumstances, you and your co-parent will be better off creating a parenting plan outside of court with your respective attorneys.
Protect Your Parental Rights with Snider & Horner, PLLC
Our firm has been helping Tennessee residents resolve their legal problems since 1996. We take the time to understand your priorities and overall goals and use our skill and experience to help you achieve them.
Snider & Horner, PLLC seeks to create a long-lasting relationship with you and your family, so we can help you with any legal hurdles you face throughout your child’s lifetime.
Creating a parenting plan is simply the first step.
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