Perhaps the most urgent concern of divorcing couples in Tennessee is the effect of the divorce upon their children and especially upon children under the age of 18. One recent study showed that 50 percent of all children born in 2016 will experience their parents' divorce by the time they reach the age of 18.
The intense level of emotion that often accompanies a divorce can drive one or both parties to make unwise and harmful decisions about each other or their children. One of the most destructive such choices is the involuntary removal of a child from the custody of the parent who has been awarded legal custody. The action, known as "custodial interference," can involve either incompetent adults or children. In this post, we will focus on children.
Grandparents can become the forgotten parties in Tennessee divorces, even though they may have close and enduring relationships with their grandchildren. A bill recently by the Tennessee House of Representatives aims to protect the grandchild-grandparent relationships of both sets of grandparents by expanding the authority of judges to make specific provisions for visitation by the non-custodial set of grandparents.
When most people in Tennessee hear the phrase "child custody fight," they assume that the dispute is limited to the child's parents, but some custody disputes may involve other parties, including grandparents, the state of Tennessee and one or both natural parents. A year-long child custody fight involving all of these parties and others tragically ended on New Year's Eve when the subject of the dispute, a one-year-old girl, died in her sleep.
As most divorcing couples in Tennessee realize, the entry of the divorce decree by the court does not always end disputes about child custody or the payment of alimony and support. A common cause of such disputes is the decision by one or both spouses to relocate to another state. In 1999, the Tennessee legislature enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to aid former spouses in enforcing or modifying the terms of a child custody decree after the former spouse has moved out of the state.
Disputes concerning child custody between divorcing spouses are common features of divorces in Tennessee. A less-noticed type of custody dispute is the desire of biological grandparents to obtain and enforce a legal right to visit a child after the divorce becomes final.
The custody of minor children can be one of the most painful and contentious issues in many Tennessee divorces. The argument usually focuses on which parent will have physical custody of the kids. But even a parent who loses a custody fight - the "non-custodial parent" - has certain rights under Tennessee divorce law.
Resolving issues of child custody can be one of the most vexing issues in a divorce. The Tennessee legislature has attempted to alleviate parents' concerns in this area by requiring either the divorcing couple or the court to devise temporary and permanent parenting plans. Both kinds of plans are intended to eliminate or sharply reduce battles over child custody.
The first concern of most parents in Tennessee when they and their spouse have decided to end their marriage is custody of the children. As we noted in a prior post, Tennessee courts want the parents to reach an agreement about child custody and child support -- as well as all other issues in the divorce. If couples cannot reach an agreement about child custody, or if such an agreement is deemed unreasonable or unenforceable for any reason, the courts will intervene.
Child custody issues can become a huge problem during a divorce proceeding, largely because of the emotional ties that every parent has toward the children. Most parents feel that they would go to any length to be with their children.