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When two parents divorce in Tennessee, one parent is designated the “primary residential parent” and is awarded primary custody over any children the parents may have in common. The other parent is awarded visitation time through a document called the “permanent parenting plan.” This document spells out the times and nature of the visitation the other parent may have with the child or children. As the child grows and matures, this permanent parenting plan may need to be modified.
The non-primary residential parent has important legal rights even if the child does not reside with him or her the majority of the time. If you are in this situation, make sure your legal rights to your child are honored by retaining the services of a Tennessee visitation attorney from Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law.
The Permanent Parenting Plan Explained
At the time child custody is decided, the court will also enter orders regarding the visitation schedule to be followed by the parties to ensure the non-primary residential parent receives adequate time with the child. The courts recognize that both parents have a right to participate in the child’s upbringing and to develop a relationship with the child (unless, for example, the parent has abused the child). Similarly, the child needs the presence and involvement of both parents in order to properly grow and mature. The parenting plan adopted by the court should therefore seek to maximize the amount of visitation time the non-residential parent has with the child.
The parties are free to make their own custody and visitation arrangements (and, in fact, must do so as part of an uncontested divorce). So long as these arrangements appear to be made with the best interests of the child in mind, the court will typically adopt the parties’ agreement. Where there is no agreement, however, the court will create a visitation schedule and include this in the permanent parenting plan. The visitation schedule should take into consideration the following of the non-residential parent:
- Relationship with the child;
- History of interactions with the child (i.e., has the non-residential parent been an “absentee” parent whom the child has not regularly seen or is the child accustomed to interacting with the non-residential parent every day);
- Work schedule; and
- Living arrangements, including whether there is anyone else living with the non-residential parent and, if so, the child’s relationship with this person.
If the child is old enough and can make reasonable recommendations, those recommendations and desires may be considered by the Most visitation schedules give the non-residential parent time with the child at least every other weekend, on some major holidays, and perhaps for an extended period of time during the summer when the child is out of school.
Modifying a Permanent Parenting Plan
A child custody determination made by a court is rarely static: it can be reviewed and, if necessary, modified. In order for a child custody to be modified, there must have been a material change in circumstance since the last child custody order was entered and the proposed modification must be in the best interest of the child. An experienced Tennessee child custody attorney can help you determine if both of these necessary elements are present in your case.
Contact a Skilled Tennessee Visitation Attorney for Help
At Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law, our team of skilled Memphis visitation attorneys are able to assist you in crafting a workable permanent parenting plan and presenting this plan to the court for its adoption. They can also assist you if you are needing to modify an existing parenting plan. Contact them at (901) 388-5805 to enlist their assistance with child custody and visitation matters.