Brentwood Child Custody Attorneys
If a married couple has children who are still living at home when the couple decides to get a divorce, the issue of which parent the children will live with and whether and how they might share custody can become the thorniest and most difficult to resolve issue in the divorce. If the parents can work out custody matters between themselves, the court is likely to approve the arrangement. If they can’t agree, though, the judge has to decide the matter after hearing factual evidence and legal arguments from both sides. Whether working to resolve child custody in or out of court, the Brentwood child custody attorneys at Beal, Nations & Crutcher can provide you with the practical advice and zealous advocacy you need when it comes to the vital issue of child custody.
Child Custody in Tennessee – Physical, Legal, Joint and Sole
Two principles guide child custody law in Tennessee: 1) both parents should share equally in the job and joys of raising children to the fullest extent possible, 2) any decision regarding child custody should be made in the child’s best interests. Sometimes these two principles come into conflict, and courts have to grapple with the issue of what type of custody arrangement is best.
When dealing with child custody matters in a Tennessee divorce, the judge will decide who has physical custody as well as legal custody. Physical custody refers to the parent having the responsibility for the child’s physical needs and care (food, clothing, shelter), while legal custody refers to the parent’s right and responsibility to decide matters such as the child’s education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and religious upbringing. In either case, the court can grant custody solely to one parent or order it to be shared jointly by both parents. The judge can rule one way regarding physical custody and another way regarding legal custody if convinced to do so would be in the best interest of the child.
In a joint physical custody arrangement, both parents may share custody equally, or one parent might have custody more than half the time, making that parent the primary residential parent and the other parent the alternate residential parent for purposes of Tennessee child custody law. If one parent is granted sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent might still have periods of visitation, although the judge can order visitation to be supervised or prohibit it altogether in cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, or other situations where visitation would not be in the child’s best interest.
Tennessee Child Custody Factors
If the parents can agree on custody, they can work together to create a detailed parenting plan that outlines the time the child spends with each parent, custody exchanges, holidays and vacations, how decisions are made, communication during non-custodial time, etc. The child custody attorneys at Beal, Nations & Crutcher include experienced mediators and former judges and magistrates who can provide expertise and assistance in negotiating and drafting a comprehensive, functional parenting plan.
If the parents can’t work out a parenting plan themselves, the judge will have to decide custody issues through a courtroom hearing. Tennessee law provides a set of 15 different factors judges are required to consider when deciding on child custody. These factors include the following:
- The child’s relationship with each parent, including whether one parent has primarily been responsible for seeing to the child’s daily needs
- How well each parent has performed as a parent in the past and how willing and able they will be to foster a close relationship with the child and their other parent
- Whether a parent refused to attend a court-ordered parent education seminar
- The parent’s willingness and ability to provide food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care for the child
- The child’s developmental level and emotional needs
- Each parent’s fitness to serve as a parent
- The child’s relationship with siblings and other relatives
- The importance of maintaining stability and continuity in the child’s home environment
- Any evidence of physical or emotional abuse directed at the child, the other parent or others
- The nature of other people who might reside in the home or visit often and how they interact with the child
- The child’s reasonable preference, depending on the child’s age
- Each parent’s employment schedule
- Any other relevant factors
As your child custody attorney, we’ll prepare and present compelling evidence and legal arguments along the lines of the above factors to help the judge make a child custody decision that respects your interests as well as those of the child.
Zealous and Dedicated Representation in Brentwood Child Custody Matters
Make sure you get the best legal advice and representation when it comes to the physical and legal custody of your kids. For help with child custody in Brentwood, call Beal, Nations & Crutcher at 615-861-2304 to discuss your needs with a team of knowledgeable and experienced Tennessee family law attorneys.