Child custody and visitation rights are crucial aspects of family law in Tennessee. When parents separate or divorce, they often seek to establish or modify custody and visitation arrangements that prioritize the best interests of their children.

If you’re a parent in Tennessee looking to gain more child visitation and custody rights, this blog post will provide valuable insights into the process and what to expect over the coming days, weeks, and months.

What Are Tennessee’s Child Custody Laws?

Before delving into the steps to gain more child visitation and custody rights, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of Tennessee’s child custody laws.

In Tennessee, the primary consideration in determining custody arrangements is the child’s best interests. The courts may award different types of custody:

  • Sole Custody: One parent has sole physical and legal custody of the child.
  • Joint Custody: Both parents share physical and legal custody of the child.

There are a few different types of joint custody, including:

Joint Legal Custody: In joint legal custody, both parents are responsible for making important decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and other significant life choices.

  • Joint Physical Custody: Joint physical custody involves parents sharing significant and roughly equal amounts of time with the child.
  • Split Custody: Split custody is a less common arrangement where multiple children are involved, and each parent is awarded primary physical custody of at least one of the children.
  • Bird’s Nest Custody: In bird’s nest custody, the child remains in one home, and the parents take turns living there to care for the child during their designated parenting time.

To gain more visitation or custody rights, you’ll typically need to demonstrate that it is in the child’s best interests.

Steps to Gain More Child Visitation and Custody Rights in Tennessee

Consult an Attorney

The first step in seeking more visitation or custody rights is to consult with an experienced family law attorney in Tennessee. An attorney can guide the legal process, help you understand your rights, and represent your interests in court if necessary.

Engage in Mediation
Except in cases where domestic abuse occurred, parents are required by Tennessee law to attempt mediation before going to court, as it may help them reach a mutually agreeable custody and visitation arrangement. Mediation can be less adversarial and more cost-effective than litigation.

File a Petition
Suppose mediation fails or you cannot agree with the other parent. In that case, you may need to petition the Tennessee family court to request a modification of the existing custody or visitation order. Be prepared to outline why you believe a change is in the child’s best interests.

Build a Strong Case
To convince the court that more visitation or custody rights are warranted, you’ll need to provide evidence supporting your claim. This might include proof of your involvement in your child’s life, a stable living environment, and any other factors demonstrating your capability as a responsible parent.

Attend All Court Hearings
Be prepared to attend court hearings and present your case before a judge. It’s essential to adhere to all court orders and deadlines throughout the process. Missing court dates can be highly detrimental to your case, so prioritize your schedule and calendar to ensure you attend all of them.

Prove the Change is in Your Child’s Best Interests
The court will decide based on what it determines to be in the child’s best interests. Factors considered may include the child’s age, relationship with each parent, emotional and physical well-being, and each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Follow the Court’s Orders
If the court grants your request for more visitation or custody rights, you should follow the court’s orders diligently. Failure to comply with court orders can have serious legal consequences and result in child custody arrangements being revoked or diminished.

Our Tennessee Family Law Attorneys Are Your Child Custody Advocates

Gaining more child visitation and custody rights in Tennessee is a complex legal process that requires careful consideration, preparation, and legal assistance. Remember that the court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests, so it’s crucial to demonstrate your commitment to providing a stable and loving environment.

At Inman, Stadler & Hill, we know how important it is for parents to have a frequent and steady presence in their children’s lives, especially after divorce. You shouldn’t have to accept a child visitation or custody arrangement that’s outdated, unfair to you and what you offer to your child as a prominent presence in their life, or both.

Contact our Tennessee family lawyers today for a consultation to discuss how we can help you with this complex and emotional issue.