When the parents of a minor child decide to end their marriage, they must follow that decision by the legal process of divorce to officially dissolve the marriage. During the divorce process, a number of important decisions must be made. Many of those decisions will involve the child, or at least affect the child. For decisions relating to the child, the State of Tennessee requires those decisions to be included in a Parenting Plan that the parties must submit to the court for approval. Ideally, the parents are able to agree on the terms and provisions of the Parenting Plan without the need for the court to step in and make decisions for the parents. If you are contemplating divorce, or have already made the decision to pursue a divorce, and you are a resident of the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to have a firm understanding of what is included in the Parenting Plan requirement. Toward that end, a LaVergne divorce attorney has offered to explain the Parenting Plan.
Tennessee Divorce Basics
The divorce process is much the same for everyone, whether there are minor children involved or not. One party must initiate the process by filing a petition or complaint for divorce. That original document provides the court with basic information about the marriage and asks the court to dissolve the marriage. The Petitioner (the person who files for divorce) must serve the petition on the Respondent (the other spouse) who then has a statutory period of time within which to file a written Answer to the complaint. If no Answer is filed, the Petitioner may ask for a default judgment. If an Answer is filed, the litigation of the divorce begins. At that point, the divorce can be uncontested, meaning the parties have resolved all issues in the divorce, or contested, meaning the parties are unable to resolve at least one issue. One of the most common reasons for a divorce to be contested is the inability to agree on issues related to the minor children of the marriage.
Why Is a Parenting Plan Required?
Lawmakers in the State of Tennessee, much like those in other states, decided that it is in the best interest of the child of a marriage to continue to have the affection and support of both parents after a divorce. To help ensures that this happens, a Parenting Plan must be developed and approved by the court. The Parenting Plan must contain information about how the parents plan to handle basic parenting issues after the divorce, such as:
- Who will be the primary residential parent (who will the child live with the majority of the time?)
- What will the parenting time (visitation) schedule be with the non-residential parent?
- Who will pay child support and how much will the support be?
- Who will be responsible for the child’s medical insurance?
- How will the non-residential parent communicate with the child post-divorce?
- How will the parents communicate with each other after the divorce?
- How will the parents resolve problems that crop up in the future?
In essence, the Parenting Plan is intended to work as a roadmap for the parents to follow post-divorce. If the parents are able to agree on all of the major issues that should be covered in the Parenting Plan, those agreements are reduced to writing and submitted to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree on the decisions that must be made in the Parenting Plan, the court will be forced to make those decisions and effectively create the Parenting Plan itself.
How Can a La Vergne Divorce Attorney Help?
If it appears that divorce is in your future, or your spouse has already initiated the process, and you have minor children of the marriage, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced La Vergne divorce attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights to your children are protected throughout the divorce process.
If you are planning to go through a divorce in Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced La Vergne divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.