Murfreesboro child custody lawyer

Tennessee Parenting Plans 101

Parenting Plans are required in Tennessee for any divorce involving children who are minors.  A divorce lawyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby  addresses several issues or questions our clients often ask about parenting plans in the divorce process.  Murfreesboro child custody lawyer


What is a Parenting Plan?

In Tennessee, a Parenting Plan is a multiple page document which addresses all issues having to do with your children, including a residential schedule for the children which accounts for every day of the year.


Do I really have to have a Parenting Plan to obtain a divorce?  



How is a Parenting Plan decided or determined? 

The two ways Parenting Plans may be entered are:  1)  by agreement, or 2) by the Judge in your divorce or custody case.  If you and the other parent of your children can agree to the terms of the Parenting Plan, the Judge will most likely approve your agreement provided that it is in the best interest of your children and that it addresses all issues required to be addressed by a Tennessee Parenting Plan.  


What if I want to work with the other parent regarding our custody or residential schedule without involvement from the Court?  

If you are going to obtain a divorce, you must file a Parenting Plan with the court and have that plan approved by the Judge. Once your divorce is finalized, you and the other parent may choose any schedule which is agreeable between the two of you.  As long as you both agree, you are not required to use the exact schedule in the Parenting Plan.   If, however, the other parent does not agree with you, then you must abide by the residential plan in the Parenting Plan.


What if I want to change the Parenting Plan after my divorce is final?  

If you and the other parent can agree on the changes you would like to incorporate in regard to the children’s schedule, you may simply execute those changes without court involvement. If you actually want to have a different Parenting Plan than the one you now have, you must go through the court and once again have the Judge approve your modified Parenting Plan. You may do this either by agreement with the other parent, or by filing a Petition with the Court requesting that the court modify your current Parenting Plan.  


What should I do if the other parent will not abide by the Parenting Plan? 

Once your divorce is final and the Judge has approved and signed your Parenting Plan, it becomes a court order. In other words, if a person does not abide by the Parenting Plan without agreement of the other parent, that person is in contempt of court. If the other parent consistently refuses to abide by the Parenting Plan, you may have the option of filing a Petition for Contempt of Court, with a request that the Judge impose some type of sanction against the other parent for not abiding by the Parenting Plan.


The other parent of my children often asks to change the schedule in the Parenting Plan. Is there any reason I should accommodate him or her?

There are many advantages of working with the other parent of your children in regard to the Parenting Plan. For one, it is often better for the children to see the parents working together and getting along. Secondly, working with the other parent often makes it easier when you need exceptions made to the Parenting Plan schedule. We often advise clients to simply accommodate the other parent as much as possible at least six months after the divorce is final. This sets a tone of trust and accommodation, and both parents can have the assurance that they will most often be accommodated by the other parent.  Finally, if you can work with the other parent instead of getting attorneys and the Courts involved, there are more financial resources available for you and the children.  There are many exceptions to this, but most of the time it is better for everyone if the parents can work together in regard to the children’s schedule.


The other parent refuses to take my child to extracurricular activities during their parenting time. Is there anything I can do about it?  

There is not a clear answer to this question unless specifically addressed by your Parenting Plan. Parenting Plans require decision making for extracurricular activities to either be made by one parent or jointly.  Most often, the parents have joint decision making authority on extracurricular activities.  Less often, the Parenting Plan specifies whether a parents’ residential time or a child’s extracurricular activities takes priority over the other.  Judges often view parental time as having a higher priority than extracurricular activities, and decline to force parents to take children to sport or other extracurricular activities. However, this can depend on the age and engagement level of the child in a  particular activity.  If your Parenting Plan  does not clarify this and you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, your options may include  filing a Petition, requesting that the Judge either clarify the issue, or modify the Parenting Plan based on one parent’s refusal to take the child to extracurricular activities.

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about your parenting plan, contact a divorce attorney in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Dinah Michael