Memphis Child Custody Attorney

Firm helps parents maintain strong bonds with their sons and daughters

Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law in Memphis represents parents in a full range of child custody matters, including modification and enforcement proceedings. My firm is dedicated to helping clients establish a supportive environment for their sons and daughters.

Types of child custody in Tennessee

Tennessee law has moved away from the term “child custody” when referring to arrangements relating to the children of parents who live apart. If a child spends a majority of time in one parent’s home, that parent is referred to as the “primary residential parent.” The other parent is the “alternative residential parent.” Similarly, the law refers to “parenting time” when discussing the schedule that states when a young person should stay in the home of each parent. Under the statute, the court is to make a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy maximum participation in their child’s life.

Factors used in custody determinations

As in other states, Tennessee courts rule on residential custody and parenting time based on what is in the best interests of the child. While anything relevant can go into the judge’s decision making process, factors listed under the law include:

  • The moral, physical, mental and emotional fitness of each parent
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s performance of parental responsibilities
  • The needs of the child
  • The importance of maintaining continuity in a child’s life
  • The child’s preference if he or she is at least 12 years old

I will conduct a detailed review of the circumstances in your case and pursue a result that is best for you and your child.  

Modification of custody terms

Young people go through changes and so do parents. Remarriage, a different job or a shift in a child’s schedule might make an existing parenting plan difficult to follow. You always have the option to request a modification to the current terms. Even if your ex agrees on the adjustment, you should formalize the new arrangement by updating the order. In the event that there is a disagreement about the potential change, the judge will determine what is in your child’s best interests.

Enforcement of existing orders

Custody orders have legal force and violations are taken seriously. A mother or father who refuses to follow the parenting time schedule might be fined or even jailed for contempt. Courts also have the power to revise custody and visitation arrangements if a parent refuses to follow the existing ground rules. A primary residential parent might lose that status if they won’t allow their child to visit their co-parent’s home. Conversely, visitation might be supervised if an alternative residential parent consistently fails to bring the child home on time.

Relocation issues

A job change, new relationship or family medical crisis could lead a primary residential parent to relocate with their child. However, a distant move could threaten their co-parent’s ability to spend time with the child they share. Tennessee allows parents to make in-state relocations of up to 50 miles without obtaining the other parent’s consent. However, a longer move or one that crosses state lines must be agreed to by the non-moving parent or approved by the court. The party requesting relocation is required to notify their co-parent at least 60 days before moving. If the relocation is contested, a judge will look at the reason for the proposed move and how it will affect the child’s relationship with the objecting parent.

Do grandparents have visitation rights in Tennessee?

Grandparents often play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren, and a long separation can be very difficult on both parties. However, unless there is some risk to the child, parents usually have the ability to decide who is allowed to spend time with their son or daughter. Tennessee law allows grandparents to petition for visitation if one of several named circumstances exist. If the child’s parents are divorced or one is deceased, grandparents might be able to gain visitation with a child who is living with their daughter- or son-in-law. Another way to show you have the right to court-ordered time with your grandchild is by showing you’ve had a significant bond with your grandchild for at least 12 months and that a separation would be harmful to him or her. Even if you have the right to seek grandparent visitation though, you still must demonstrate to the court that establishing a visitation schedule would be in the youth’s best interests.  

Contact a Memphis lawyer for a free consultation about a child custody issue

Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law in Memphis advises Tennessee clients on child custody matters and other aspects of the divorce process. Please call 901-233-3474 or contact me online for a free consultation.