When the parents of a minor child decide to end their marriage, issues surrounding custody of the child must be handled during the subsequent divorce proceedings. If you see yourself heading for divorce and hope to get full custody of your child, you may have a difficult road ahead. To help prepare you, a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses how to get full custody of your child in Tennessee.
Residential Parent, Parenting Time, and Decision-Making – Understand the Legal Terms
Before discussing the likelihood of getting full custody of your child and the steps needed to do so, you need to understand the current legal terms involved in custody of a minor child in Tennessee. The law no longer uses the term “custody.” Instead, the parent with whom a child lives most of the time is referred to as the “Primary Residential Parent (PRP)” while the other parent is referred to as the “Alternative Residential Parent (ARP).” Likewise, “visitation” is now called “parenting time.” Finally, another important legal concept related to parenting post-divorce is decision-making authority. This may refer to a parent’s ability to make day-to-day decisions for the child while the child is in the parent’s care and/or to the right to make major decisions relating to the child such as the right to decide where the child attends school, what religion (if any) the child is taught, and the right to make major medical decisions for the child.
What Does “Full Custody” Mean in Tennessee?
The next important thing to consider is what you mean by getting full custody of your child. For some parents, full custody simply means being designated as the PRP. For others, it means being the PRP with limited parenting time allowed with the ARP while still others view “full custody” as being the PRP, no parenting time with the ARP, and full decision-making authority.
Gender Cannot Be a Factor When Deciding Custody in Tennessee
Do not assume that because you are the mother of a child you are more likely to be awarded full custody of your child. Conversely, if you are the father, do not assume you will be unable to secure full custody of your child in Tennessee. Tennessee law specifically states that “the gender of the party seeking custody shall not give rise to a presumption of parental fitness or cause a presumption or constitute a factor in favor or against the award of custody to such party.” In short, both parents start off on equal footing when “custody” of a child is contested in a Tennessee divorce.
Is It Possible to Get Full Custody of My Child in Tennessee?
Every decision made by a judge in a divorce involving children must be made using the “best interest of the child” standard. In addition, Tennessee law encourages both parents to remain part of a child’s life post-divorce and to actively co-parent the child unless there is a good reason not to implement such a plan. That means that you will have to overcome the goal of co-parenting if you want true full custody of your child, meaning the designation of PRP, no (or supervised) visitation with the other parent, and sole decision-making authority. Because every divorce case involves unique circumstances, you should consult with an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney about your situation. In general, however, courts will only agree to a Parenting Plan that does not allow for visitation and/or that takes aways all decision-making authority if it can be shown that the parent abused the child, has a mental health condition that endangers the child, or has an untreated addiction that endangers the child.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions about how to get full custody of your child in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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