Custody Attorney Memphis, TN

Custody Attorney Memphis, TN

Whether you are in the middle of a divorce in which you have minor children or in the midst of establishing parentage of a minor child born out of wedlock, you will need to determine which parent has custody of the minor children and to enter into a parenting schedule. Whenever parties disagree on who should be the primary residential parent (PRP), the judge must decide for them. In doing so, the judge applies Tennessee’s child custody factors to the evidence and makes a final determination.

When a court makes a custody determination, the court considers all factors relevant to the case before it, accounts for each child’s best interests, and arrives at a custody determination that allows both parents maximum participation in their children’s lives. In considering the relevant factors, the court will consider the custody factors required by Tennessee law which are codified at T.C.A. § 36-6-106. The custody factors are briefly described here:

  1. What love, affection, and emotional ties exist between parent and child.
  2. How disposed a parent is to providing food, clothing, medical care, education, and other necessary things for the child. Plus the degree to which a parent acted as the child’s primary caregiver.
  3. The importance of continuity in a child’s life. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment. Note that any child abuse or child sexual abuse which caused the non-perpetrating parent to flee and relocate with the child shall not weigh against an award of custody to that parent.
  4. The stability of a parent’s family unit.
  5. The mental and physical health of a parent.
  6. The child’s record in the home, school, and community.
  7. For a child age 12 or older, his or her reasonable preference for PRP. Note that, upon request, the judge may hear a younger child’s preference.
  8. Evidence of physical or emotional abuse of a child, or other domestic violence in the parent’s home. Note that evidence of any such abuse against a family member may involve additional court proceedings.
  9. The character, behavior, and interactions with another person residing at or frequenting the parent’s home.
  10. Each party’s past parenting duties and the potential for future performance of responsibilities. This includes a willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and both parents, consistent with the child’s best interests.

The primary residential parent should be the one who the court believes will foster and encourage a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent. Which means the judge, in choosing the PRP, will likely select the party who is most likely to meet the other parent more than half-way.

After an initial custody determination, the Court will enter a parenting schedule. If your custody determination is during a divorce proceeding, the court will enter a permanent parenting plan. A “permanent parenting plan” is a detailed written outline of how divorcing parents will care for their children. Parenting plans contain an allocation of parenting responsibilities, the establishment of a residential schedule, and an allocation of child support.

A residential schedule outlines when the children are in each parent’s physical care and designates the primary residential parent. The residential schedule also covers details such as where the children will reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a parenting plan, you must first go to mediation and try to agree on a parenting plan before the court will try your case.

Although parenting plans are not required in a parentage action in Tennessee, the Court’s initial custody order will also make an initial parenting schedule, establish child support, and allocate parenting responsibilities. Some Court’s may also require that parents attend mediation and attempt to reach a resolution of these issues.

If you are in a divorce that involves minor child, a parentage action, or any other custody dispute, contact the custody attorney Memphis, TN trusts at Wiseman Bray to discuss your options.