Few aspects of the law are more emotionally charged than those that center around child custody. In effect, every divorce where there are children involved results in one of the parents becoming the primary parent and the other having specific visitation rights. While there are attempts at joint custody, some of which succeed, most eventually end and the traditional approach is the ultimate solution. Couples often find it necessary to go their separate ways but their love for their children remains as strong as ever. This sets the stage for serious disputes in an already stressful situation.
For a very long period in our history child custody was an automatic in divorce - the mother would raise the children and the father would have visitation rights. While that is more often than not the outcome today, it is no longer automatic. In certain situations fathers can and do win custody of their children. It is important for both parties to be willing to work with the other during and after the divorce with respect to their children. In so doing, there is one overarching concern that needs to guide both parents -the best interests of their child or children. A divorce should not be thought of as the breaking up of a marriage but rather a redefining of the parties' responsibilities. The fact the now divorcing parents are no longer going to live together should be a totally separate aspect of how the children will be cared for and have their needs met.
This is sometimes an area where creativity is needed. There are a multitude of ways for the parents to remain a part of the children's live other than every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. If the parents will put their differences aside for a brief period and focus on their children and how they can both remain an integral part of their lives, very unique and goal oriented solutions can be reached and all parties, especially the children, will be winners.
Child custody is also not a stagnant process. As the children grow and reach new levels their needs will change and while those changes can be somewhat foreseen at the time of the divorce, the parents need to be ready to reassess the situation on a regular basis and make adjustments that will meet the children's over changing needs. If the parents cannot work together on parenting their children they will often find themselves back in court with a judge making the decision. While Tennessee's judges work very hard to find the best solution, it is much better for the parents to find their own solutions outside of court. Relocation statues have been revised and are now more favorable to the primary residential parent relocating.
Second only to custody is child support. It is safe to say that in the vast majority of cases the primary parent will receive child support from the other parent. In Tennessee this is a formula-based process with little judicial interference. You can find the Tennessee child support calculator here. Child support, just like the child's needs, is not necessarily a fixed amount over time. As the children's needs and parents' income changes it is often time to go back to court to seek a modification of custody, visitation, and/or child support. Once again, if the parents cannot agree, the judge will make the decisions.
Nothing deserves more attention in a divorce than the issues surrounding child custody and support. We at the Tull & Marshall, An Association of Attorneys take a very special interest in these matters and are ready to help parents in meeting the needs of their children. If you need assistance in this or any area, please call us at 615.530.5719 or contact us by any of the means listed on the Contact Us page.