Clarksville Visitation Attorneys
Information for Non-Custodial Parents
When children are involved in a divorce or legal separation, the situation can be complicated even more than it would be otherwise. Children add a whole new aspect to the legal process of ending a relationship or dissolving a marriage, because many more considerations will need to be made. Which parent will obtain custody? With whom would the child prefer to live? How can you visit your child if you are not awarded joint or sole custody? These are only some of the many conditional factors that need to be addressed before a relationship can be officially ended.
When joint custody is not agreed upon by the parents of a child, nor is it preferred by the state's court system, the non-custodial parent will need to make sure that he / she is provided with the proper visitation rights allotted by law. It is a parent's right to see their children, whether or not they have maintained a relationship with one another as mother and father. The state of Tennessee firmly believes in the age-old tenet that a child's development can be strongly influenced by the relationships they build early on with their mother and father. As such, statutory laws in Tennessee act to protect the relationship between a child and their parents, even in cases of unmarried parents, divorced parents, and separated parents.
Visitation Code § 36-6-301
According to Tennessee's visitation code, courts are required to facilitate the continuation of a parent-child relationship after custodial arrangements have been made. To do so, it is expected that courts will accept a non-custodial parent's request for visitation, assuming that there is no reason or concern not to. Only in circumstances in which the court has found reasonable cause to believe that visits between the non-custodial parent and his / her child would foster an unhealthy or unsafe environment will visitation requests be denied.
When granting visitation rights, the court has a lot of power and it can set conditional circumstances as specific as where and when the visitations will take place. For example, if during a hearing, the court found that the non-custodial parent was responsible for emotional or physical abuse of their child, they may opt to have their visits supervised, if not prohibited altogether. Other circumstances in which the court can legally issue jurisdiction are provisions for holidays, vacations, birthdays, and other special occasions.
Acting in the Child's Best Interest
In every decision made by the court, you can reasonably expect the decisions that are made to reflect what the legal system believes will be in the best interest of the child. Therefore, it is up to you and your attorney to prove that visitation rights are not only conducive to your child's wellbeing, but beneficial to his / her development. As stated before, the state of Tennessee soundly believes in fostering a parent-child relationship, regardless of the relationship between mother and father. As such, it takes a strong and very compelling argument to dissuade the court from allowing a non-custodial parent the right to visit their child.
What to Include in a Visitation Schedule?
Your Tennessee child visitation schedule must be consistent with the child’s development level and family’s financial and social circumstances. It should be written and include a “residential schedule,” a “holiday schedule,” and a “vacation schedule.”
A residential schedule determines the child’s primary residence by designating which parent’s home the child shall live in. This is a regular schedule that sets forth who the child spends time with both parents.
A holiday schedule includes birthdays, school holidays, and other special occasions. This helps the parents determine who the child will spend with during each holiday.
A vacation schedule determines how a child spends vacation time with each parent during school breaks and the parents’ personal vacation schedules.
Do Stepparents Have Visitation Rights in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, a stepparent has a right to custody and visitation rights to a stepchild if it is in the best interest of the child. In order words, if a stepparent has consistently contributed to the wellbeing of the stepchild for a substantial amount of time, then he/she would be granted visitation rights.
To ensure a stepparent has custody and/or visitation rights if he/she and the biological parent divorce is to adopt the stepchild. Adoption gives the stepparent the legal rights to make decisions on behalf of the child.
Ready to Help You Today
As the non-custodial parent of a child, you should not be denied the fundamental rights that will allow you to maintain a strong relationship with your son or daughter. At Grimes, Sensing & Clemons PLLC, we can help you make sure that your parental rights are not manipulated or overlooked in any capacity. With more than 20 years of combined experience working in the field of family law, we have helped parents in similar situations on a number of occasions.
We are eager to do the same for you, and we encourage you to contact our office to learn more about your rights and the legal processes involved in upholding these rights in court.