For the parent of a minor child, one of the biggest worries – and often the source of disputes – during a divorce is how custody of the child will be resolved. In a perfect world, the parents of a minor child can resolve the issue of custody amicably without the need for contentious litigation. Unfortunately, however, that doesn’t always happen. Knowing what is fact and what is fiction regarding custody is crucial. Toward that end, a Murfreesboro child custody attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses five common child custody myths.
- If I don’t get full custody, I’ll be stuck with very little visitation time.
Once upon a time, that was typically how a divorce ended up – usually the mother was awarded custody of the kids and the father was stuck with “visitation” every other weekend. Times have changed and so has the law. Today, the terms “custody” and “visitation” are not even used anymore. Instead, the parent who has the child the majority of the time is referred to as the “primary residential parent (PRP)” while the other parent is the “alternative residential parent (ARP).” Instead of using the term “visitation,” time a child spends with a parent is referred to as “parenting time” – and parenting time is not relegated to every other weekend. Another important term to know is “ultimate decision-maker.” This refers to the parent who has the legal authority to make important decisions relating to the child if the parents are unable to agree.
- A child can decide, at a certain age, which parent gets “custody.” This myth does have a grain of truth to it. A child’s wishes will never be the sole factor in determining where a child lives, or which parent is the child’s primary residential parent. The law dictates that all decisions affecting a minor child must be made using the “best interest of the child” standard. Tennessee does, however, allow a child who is 12 years of age or older to express his/her wishes regarding where the child lives, and those wishes will be taken into consideration along with several other statutory factors a judge may consider when deciding the best interests of a child.
- Fathers rarely get custody of a child. While that was once true, it is no longer the case. In fact, the law specifically prevents making decisions relating to a child based on the sex of the parent. As a father, you have the right to request to be the PRP, if that is your desire. Alternatively, you can ask for liberal parenting time if you are alright being the ARP. The important thing to understand is that you have the same rights and responsibilities to your children as their mother does.
- If my ex decides to move out of state with the kids, I can’t stop him/her. Absolutely not Unless the terms of your divorce decree specifically gives your ex the right to move out of state, he/she is legally required to notify you of the intent to relocate and either obtain your consent or petition the court and get the court’s approval. You have the right to object to the relocation and if you do, your ex will have to convince the court that the move is necessary and in the best interest of the children.
- My name is on my child’s birth certificate, so I have rights to my child. Not necessarily true. If you were not married to the child’s mother when the child was born, the mother has full custodial rights to the child unless and until there is a court order establishing your parental rights. There are two ways to legally establish paternity in Tennessee. The easiest way is by agreement which requires both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and file it with the state. The second way to establish paternity is to petition a court to order DNA testing.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Custody Attorney
If you are a parent who is contemplating divorce in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child custody attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Tennessee contact a Murfreesboro child custody attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.