Dedicated Springfield Child Custody Attorneys Ready To Help You
Child custody disputes are emotionally traumatic and difficult to navigate. Making a mistake can result in long-term negative consequences that can be difficult to reverse. Furthermore, child custody disputes are closely related to child support obligations, since a parent who is awarded most of the time with the child is typically the recipient rather than the payer of child support obligations. This is something you have got to make sure you get right. Having our knowledgeable and winning Springfield child custody attorneys on your side will help you through this challenging time.
Our Springfield Child Custody Lawyers Help Divorcing Parents in Springfield Preserve Enduring Relationships with Their Children
Getting divorced means that your children will not live with you 100% of the time, except in unusual circumstances. Scientific studies have confirmed the importance of both parents playing an active role in their children’s upbringing and development, and the fact that their parents no longer live together does not change their needs in this regard. Tennessee law recognizes this fundamental principle as well. And as a matter of policy, it is presumed that a child should continue to spend meaningful time (including overnight visits) with each parent after a divorce.
Tennessee law also does not favor either parent. When a mother and father decide to divorce, both have an equal opportunity to seek custody and visitation (now more commonly known as “parenting time”) rights they desire. Divorcing parents must apply Tennessee’s “best interests” factors in deciding how to divide parenting time and parental decision-making. If they are unable to do so, then a judge will make a custody determination on their behalf. While we focus our efforts on helping our clients develop comprehensive, favorable, and mutually-agreeable parenting plans, we will not hesitate to fight to protect our clients’ relationships with their children in court, when necessary.
Developing a Comprehensive Parenting Plan that Works for You and Serves Your Children’s “Best Interests”
Developing a post-divorce parenting plan involves much more than splitting up the days of the week. Our Springfield child custody attorneys have been representing divorcing parents in Springfield for decades, and we have seen many trends come and go over time. Our lawyers have also seen what happens when parents overlook issues during the divorce process, and this is why we always work with our clients to ensure that they are not setting themselves up for contentious disputes down the line.
While each family’s circumstances are unique, a typical post-divorce parenting plan will address issues including (but not limited to):
- Custodial parenting time (e.g., regular overnight scheduling)
- Special parenting time for holidays and birthdays
- Special parenting time, planning, and communication for spring and summer vacations
- Transportation between the parents’ residences
- Transportation to and from extracurricular activities and other events
- Curfew, friend visits, screen time, and access to cell phones and tablets
- Driving privileges and restrictions (for children who have their driver’s licenses)
- Communication and information sharing between parents
- Childcare and health care providers and decision making
- Attendance at teacher conferences, games, recitals, and other child-related events
Mistakes in Child Custody Disputes
The following are just a few of the mistakes we have seen people make in child support proceedings. Avoid them at all costs.
- Appearing vindictive towards the other parent. Nothing leaves a bad impression with a family court faster than this. And it is not a vindictive attitude itself, but the appearance of such that does the damage.
- Appearing uninterested in involvement with the child’s life. It is important that you make an effort to involve yourself in your child’s life (PTSA – Parent Teacher Student Association meetings, soccer games, etc.), even if the other parent seems to be trying to obstruct you.
- Loss of self-control. Losing your temper could result in catastrophic consequences with respect to your parenting time. It could encourage a family court judge (who probably doesn’t know you) to form a grossly distorted impression of your character based on a single incident.
- Leaving a “paper trail.” We have all seen how much trouble “tweeting” can get people into. Do you tend to vent your frustrations by saying things you don’t really mean? Emailing or texting such outbursts creates visible evidence that could be easily distorted.
Fear not. At Batson Nolan PLC, our highly experienced Springfield child custody lawyer has been helping clients navigate these troubled waters for many years now. Our firm has survived, and thrived, for over 150 years for one reason: because we get results.
Myths about Child Custody
In addition to avoiding these kinds of mistakes, when dealing with child custody during a divorce or separation, it is important to avoid making uninformed decisions based on common misconceptions about the process. For example, some common myths about child custody and parental rights in Tennessee include:
- Myth: The mother always gets primary custody. As discussed above, in custody matters under Tennessee law, both parents have an equal opportunity to seek primary custody. While mothers may have historically been more likely to obtain primary custody due to various societal factors, today, the sole focus is on protecting the “best interests” of the children involved.
- Myth: One parent will have primary custody and the other will have visitation. While this is one option for establishing a post-divorce or post-separation parenting plan, there are also several alternatives available. From shared parenting (where the child spends equal time with each parent) to co-parenting (where the parents continue to jointly participate in their children’s lives), parents in Tennessee have lots of options available.
- Myth: If you work long hours, you won’t be able to get custody. To be sure, work schedules are a factor when it comes to establishing child custody. However, working full-time does not make you any less capable of raising your children. Our Springfield child custody lawyers have significant experience representing working parents in child custody matters, and we can help you seek the custody rights you desire.
Tips for Securing the Custody Rights You Desire
In addition to avoiding these mistakes, there are affirmative steps that divorcing parents can take to improve their chances of securing their desired custody rights as well. While the specific steps that you will want to take will depend on the specific circumstances of your divorce, here are some general tips from our Springfield child custody lawyers:
- Make sure you know what factors are (and aren’t) relevant to the determination of parental custody rights in Tennessee. Tennessee’s child custody statute contains a non-exclusive list of factors that must be considered in determining what is in a child’s “best interests” with regard to custody. When preparing for a divorce with children, it is critical to understand which factors are likely to weigh heaviest in your case.
- Make a plan based on your personal circumstances that reflects due consideration of the relevant “best interests” factors. Once you have identified the relevant factors, then you can begin the process of building a plan. Keep in mind that your spouse’s goals (and potentially his or her temperament) need to be considered as well.
- Consider whether any changes to your routine may be necessary. In order to ensure that your desired custody arrangement serves your children’s best interests, it may or may not be necessary to make demonstrable changes to your routine. Our Springfield child custody lawyers can work with you to decide what changes (if any) are necessary.
- Consult with an attorney for divorce who has experience establishing child custody and dealing with post-divorce custody modifications. Due to the complexities involved in developing a parenting plan that is both (i) mutually agreeable, and (ii) compliant with Tennessee’s “best interests” factors, it is extremely important to work with an experienced attorney. A Springfield child custody attorney who has experience both establishing custody and dealing with post-divorce modifications will be well equipped to help you identify potential issues and address them appropriately.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is child custody determined?
Child custody is determined, based on the totality of the circumstances, according to the best interests of the child. The following factors will be taken into consideration:
- Whether either parent has a history of abuse or neglect (including abuse or neglect of other children);
- The parents’ relative income;
- Each parent’s desire to care for the child;
- The child’s preference – if he or she is old enough; and
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child.
Other factors may be taken into consideration as well.
What Is a Permanent Parenting Plan?
A Permanent Parenting Plan is an agreement on child custody, support, and related issues. It is typically drafted and submitted by both parents in the form of an agreement, especially in an amicable child custody case. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, however, a Tennessee family court is entitled to impose a solution with its own Permanent Parenting Plan.
Are mothers favored in child custody decisions?
Not anymore – at least not formally. Once upon a time, Tennessee honored the “tender years” doctrine that favored the mother (all other things being equal) if the child was below a certain age. Currently, there is no such doctrine, and the father theoretically has an equal right to custody. If custody arrangements favor one parent, it is for reasons other than the gender of the favored parent.
Is the child's preference considered in a custody decision?
Children under 12 are not asked their preference. Children 12 and above are asked their preference, and their preference is given more weight the older the child is. Under no circumstances, however, can a child unilaterally decide which parent he or she prefers to have custody – the family court always has veto power.
How does child custody affect child support payments?
Child custody affects child support payments in that the parent with the most time with the child is presumed to spend the most money on child support, justifying a demand for child support payments from the other parent. This is not always strictly true, of course – other factors may intervene.
Do you have other questions? Contact our supportive and highly experienced Springfield child custody attorneys to get the answers you need.
Get Started as Early as Possible
If you are involved in a child custody dispute in Springfield, Tennessee (or if you anticipate one), talk to an experienced Springfield child custody attorney, contact us online, or stop into our Springfield office just across the street from the courthouse. The highly-skilled lawyers in our firm has been serving the people of Springfield for many years now. Our former clients come from Blackpatch, Barren Plains, Lakeside Estates, Saddlebrook, and all over town.