Child Custody Lawyer in Murfreesboro TN

Determining an outcome in co-parenting/child custody cases is especially challenging because the parents are often not on the best of terms. Read on to learn about the different types of custody, how to get custody, visitation rights for parents and non-parents, state laws, and common problems.

Terminology of Co-Parenting

Most courts favor joint custody, meaning both parents have parental rights as well as living arrangements with the child.

Tennessee no longer recognizes “custody” but has adopted the co-parenting approach wherein both parents are deemed to play a vital role in the life of a child as his/her needs change and grow. Both parents have superior rights to their children unless a Court has deemed otherwise. However, some of the terms that need to be understood when considering your options are as follows:

Parenting Plan: Tennessee requires a parenting plan in each divorce or paternity suit. A parenting plan will address the day to day schedule of the child, holidays, vacations, medical insurance, decision making, tax deductions, and life insurance provisions.
Shared Parenting: This concept is designed for each parent to equally share in responsibilities and the child(ren) substantially are in the care of each parent for substantially the same amount of time.
Primary Residential Parent: Defined as the parent who spends more time with the minor child(ren) per the parenting schedule. However, even if the parents are exercising equal time, one of them must be designated as the primary residential parent as the local school systems utilize it to determine the school zoning.
Alternate Residential Parent: Defined as the parent who spends even slightly less time parenting the child. It does NOT mean that parent has less rights than the Primary Residential Parent only that they are spending less overall quantity of time with the child(ren).
Mandatory Parental Rights: Each parent has mandatory rights that are given to them upon being designated as a parent. Rights to school information, medical attention, communication with the child, information about vacations or trips, are just some of the few rights given to a parent under T.C.A. § 36-6-101.
Parent Educational Classes: Tennessee requires parents to attend a parent education class prior to the divorce or within 60 days of the divorce. Failure to attend could delay your divorce or cause you to be in contempt of court.
Mediation: Divorcing parents must also attend mediation prior to going to trial on their case unless the Judge has given them permission to not attend mediation. Often cases will settle prior to attending mediation.


Unmarried parents typically go through a different process. In most states, the mother is given sole custody by default, unless the father is actively seeking custody. Mothers that provide well for their children don’t have to worry about losing custody. If the mother gives up custody in the future, the father is usually awarded custody instead of those outside of the immediate family.


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Examples of state custody laws

The following are examples of how custody laws can vary from state to state:

  • Connecticut law dictates that the court must provide strong reasons for rejecting joint custody.
  • Children 14 or older may have 100% control of the outcome in Georgia.
  • In Arizona, joint custody may be granted if both parents agree and submit a plan that is in the child’s best interests.

What must the court consider?

The best interests of the child are the main factor for determining the outcome of a custody case. Many factors are taken into account in order to come up with a legal decision on the outcome. One important factor is the parents’ ability and desire to support the child emotionally and financially. If the parents cannot come to a solution during mediation, the judge has the right to make a parenting plan that differs from both parties’ specific conditions. In other words, the judge will determine the outcome instead of the parents’ submitted plans. Child custody determinations are the toughest part of the divorce process. Child custody laws and regulations may vary from state to state. According to federal law, states must enforce custody laws of other states. State regulations vary on custody proceedings, residency requirements, and other aspects of the child custody determination. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) protects custody orders from other states to prevent kidnapping and other problems that arise when crossing state lines. State child custody laws usually affect the following:

  • Visitation rights of Grandparents
  • Visitation rights of Non-parents
  • Restricted Parenting
  • Relocation of Parents in and outside of the state.

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Child Custody and Taxes

Federal deduction of taxes for dependents cannot be claimed by two different taxpayers. Soon-to-be unmarried parents need to know the child custody tax law in order to be prepared. The parents can agree to exemption provisions and such must be addressed in the parenting plan. Howevver, if they cannot agree, often the Tennessee Childsupport Guidelines can play a large factor.


It is important not to omit any relevant information about your basic and extended responsibilities. Parents who assist with homework, plan and prepare regular meals, or aid with school functions will be considered in the outcome. If both parents share equal responsibility, the child’s best interests are taken into account for determining custody. Best interests refer to many different factors that help determine a decision that is favorable to the child. These factors vary from state to state, but can include but are not limited to:

  • Religious considerations
  • Continuity of a stable environment for the child
  • Child’s age and sex
  • If old enough, the child’s wishes
  • Physical and mental well-being of the parents
  • Ability for the parent to provide interaction with extended family of either parent.
  • Cultural considerations
  • Interaction and relationship with other household members
  • Proof of sex, drug or alcohol abuse by a parent
  • Parental rights abuse including excessive and emotional

Embryo Custody

Most states make a determination for this scenario on a case-by-case basis. Cases are rare, and not every state has updated their laws to adapt to this new technology. The advent of artificial insemination has brought upon new and controversial challenges in child custody law. Legal Assistance Many people choose to hire a family lawyer due to the emotional stress of going through the divorce and child custody process. The chances of getting a favorable outcome are greatly increased by hiring a lawyer.


Legal Assistance

Some people choose to represent themselves in legal issues. However, hiring a family lawyer due to the emotional stress of going through the divorce and child custody process is an excellent investment in futures of you and your children. The chances of getting a favorable outcome are greatly increased by hiring a lawyer and they are able to help you navigate a very emotional process.