Research demonstrates that a father’s nurturing presence in a child’s life has a major impact upon the child’s development, both cognitive, socially and emotionally. It is universally accepted among experts that children who have a meaningful relationship with their father statistically have a greater chance at achieving success and happiness as adults.
Most people assume that in cases which involve issues of child custody or visitation, that courts favor mothers or give them more rights to the children as compared to fathers. Fortunately, this presumption is inaccurate. Tennessee, like many other states, has done away with such unfair legal biases against fathers. Just because you may be going through a divorce does not mean you have to forego your paternity rights or lose your relationship with your child.
First and foremost, a father must establish his status as the legal parent of the child in order to have standing to petition a Tennessee court for parenting time, and physical or legal custody of a child. In Tennessee, when a child is conceived or born during marriage, the husband is legally presumed to be the child’s father. Such legal presumptions can be refuted or disavowed by genetic testing. Once paternity is established, the focus then turns to matters of child custody and visitation.
A Tennessee court’s determination of child custody or child visitation arrangements is predicated upon what are determined by the court to be the best interests of the child. In Tennessee, the trial court will make its determination of which parent will be declared the child’s primary residential parent after considering some of the following child custody factors: [a] the strength, nature and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent; [b] whether one parent has performed the majority of parenting responsibilities relating to the daily needs of the child; [c] each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities including each parent’s willingness to facilitate and encourage a close relationship between the child and the opposite parent; [d] each parent’s history in providing food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care for the child; [e] the love, affection and emotional ties existing between each parent child; [f] the moral, physical and mental and emotional fitness of each parent as it relates to their ability to parent the child; [g] the importance of continuity and stability in the child’s life; [h] evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child; [i] the character and behavior of other persons who reside with or frequent the home of each parent and such person’s interactions with the child; [j] the location of the residences of the parents and their respective employment schedules.
It is no surprise that determinations of child custody and visitation are often the most emotional and difficult aspects of any divorce. Fathers often fail to realize that their failure to fight for their parental rights during the initial custody determination may have lasting long-term negative effects upon their ability to ever re-petition the court to change custody, to modify visitation, the calculation of their child support obligation, or their ability to ever challenge the other parent’s efforts to relocate with the child.
In cases which involve issues of child custody and visitation, it is imperative that each father vigorously advocate for their rights to have fair and equal access to their children. In such cases a successful outcome is often contingent upon whether or not the father retains an experienced attorney who will zealously advocate against the unfair presumptions against fathers; and who is skilled in uncovering and presenting the evidence necessary to demonstrate to the court that the child’s best interest requires that the father be awarded either primary custody or significant meaningful visitation with the child.
At BATSON NOLAN, PLC, we take pride in our results, both in and out of the courtroom, representing fathers and advocating for their God given parental rights. It is never too early to initiate a strategy or plan of action tailored toward developing the evidence you will need to be successful in the courtroom.
If you are a father who seeks custody of equal visitation with your child, you should not be deterred by gender stereotypes or by any presumption that a mother has more rights than you do. Contact one our dedicated and experienced attorneys so we can fight for you.