Rutherford County Lawyer Protects Clients’ Child Custody and Visitation Rights

Tennessee firm promotes children’s welfare through parental care and access

When a couple with children divorce or separate, custody may be awarded to either parent or both, depending on what a court decides is in the children’s best interests. State law also protects a non-custodial parent’s right to keep in contact with his or her children. At Gasser Law PLLC in Smyrna, I am dedicated to working with our clients to present the best factual and legal basis for granting them custody and visitation rights.

Ensuring the best interests of the child in joint custody determinations

If the parents agree to joint custody, the court will consider such an arrangement to be in the best interests of the child unless it finds clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. In making this determination, the family court considers several factors, including:

  • The emotional ties between parents and child
  • The care the parents give the child
  • The importance of continuity and family stability in the child’s life
  • The home, school and community record of the child
  • The child’s reasonable preference
  • Evidence of physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • The character, behavior and relationship with the child of anyone who frequents a parent’s home
  • Each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities.

After a child custody order is entered, the court may modify it due to changed circumstances, applying the same criteria used in deciding the original order.

Devising fair and workable parenting plans

Under Tennessee’s Parenting Plan Law, the court must adopt a written plan providing for allocation of parenting responsibilities, a schedule of when the child is in each parent’s care and an award of child support. A permanent parenting plan must be included in the final divorce decree. Under Tennessee law, the term “residential time” is used instead of “visitation” to describe the child’s physical stay with the noncustodial parent. The court may approve a parenting plan upon the agreement of the parents or, if the parents cannot agree, the court will choose the plan that it determines to be in the best interests of the child. The court may modify a parenting plan if a parent petitions it to do so and modification is in the child’s best interests.

Helping noncustodial parents keep close to their children

When issuing a custody order, the court is required, if the noncustodial parent requests, to grant such visitation rights as will enable maintaining a parent-child relationship, unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation will endanger the child’s physical or emotional health.

Securing grandparental visitation or custody

In certain circumstances, grandparents can obtain the right to visitation with a grandchild, especially where they can prove that the loss of a relationship with the grandparent may cause the child emotional harm. A grandparent can also seek to obtain custody if the child’s parents are unfit or unable to care for the child after a divorce. A court will assess the grandparent’s ability to meet the child’s needs and factors demonstrating parental unfitness. For example, if a child is removed from the custody of abusive parents and placed in a foster care or child care facility, the child’s grandparents may be awarded custody if a court finds it is in the best interests of the child.

Contact a knowledgeable family law attorney in Smyrna

If you are a parent who is divorcing, divorced or merely separated and you need to secure or modify your child custody or visitation rights, you need a capable attorney to advise and represent you. Call Gasser Law PLLC at 615-267-0588 or contact me online to schedule your free initial consultation at my Smyrna office.