When the parents of a minor child decide to end their marriage, or otherwise decide not to live together, a Parenting Plan must be created that will help govern how the parents will raise the child. One of the many issues that is decided in the Parenting Plan is the issue of custody. If you are operating under a Tennessee Parenting Plan and you wish to modify the custodial terms found in the plan you may be wondering “ What do I have to show to change custody in Tennessee? ”
Custody of a minor child is actually divided into two categories – physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time, whereas legal custody refers to the authority to make important decisions regarding the child such as where the child will go to school, what doctor the child will treat with, and what religion the child will practice. Either type of custody may be sole or joint. Joint legal custody is common; however, joint physical custody is less so because it requires a tremendous amount of cooperation between the parties to facilitate a true joint physical custody arrangement. One the custodial arrangement for a child has been decided in a Parenting Plan both parents are legally obligated to abide by the plan and the orders therein.
It is, however, possible to change, or modify, the custody order. It is important to note that changing the residential parenting schedule only requires you to show a “material change in circumstances affecting the child’s best interest.” This threshold is not usually difficult to get past. Actually modifying custody though requires much more.
Unless the child’s other parent agrees to the change in custody you will need to petition the court. When deciding if the current custodial order should be changed the court will first look to see if there has been a “material change in circumstances”. If so, the court will then ask the following:
- whether the change occurred after the entry of the order sought to be modified
- whether a change was not known or reasonably anticipated when the order was entered
- whether a change is one that affects the child’s well-being in a meaningful way.
If you wish to change a standing custody order in the State of Tennnessee it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee family law atto as follows: (1a) whether the change occurred after the entry of the order sought to be modified; (1b) whether a change was not known or reasonably anticipated when the order was entered; and, (1c) whether a change is one that affects the child’s well-being in a meaningful way at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.