Tennessee Child Custody Laws: Modification of Child Custody
Nashville Law Offices, PLLC has been helping tens of thousands of families change custody across Nashville and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years. Our attentive and caring child custody lawyers understand the difficult emotions and issues that often arise in child custody cases. An experienced family law attorney will not only have thorough comprehension of child custody laws in Tennessee, but also have the capacity and empathy to effectively appreciate child psychology as well as those emotions and difficulties experienced by children during family disputes.
New Terminology for Child Custody Cases in TN
Terms that were previously used to describe custody laws in Tennessee, like sole custody, joint custody, and visitation rights are actually not used by courts, judges, or attorneys any longer. Such terms, which most people typically use when referring to such family legal matters, have been updated and replaced by the more descriptive legal terms; Primary Residential Parent, or PRP, and Alternate Residential Parent, or ARP.
The PRP is the parent with whom a child will mostly reside; the other parent, with whom the child resides with less is the ARP. In layman’s terms, all custody is now considered to be joint custody; with the intent of reaching the determination of which parent will maintain the primary amount of custody as well as decide on a residential schedule for the children with the other parent. Tennessee courts are required to maximize the amount of time that the children will be allotted to spend with the ARP.
Some cases will involve shared parenting, which includes an equal amount of time determined to be spent with each parent. When conferring in regards to child custody cases, the term “custody” may be used interchangeably with the term “Primary Residential Parent.” In Tennessee, all custody cases will require the parents to join in a Permanent Parenting Plan, which identifies any issues regarding minor children. These issues may include the specific amount of time each parent is to spend with the child, cumulative child support dues, and other major decisions.
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Change Custody by Modifying a Permanent Parenting Plan
Permanent Parenting Plans may be changed depending on whether or not material changes in circumstances have taken place since the solidification of the PPP. A standard is now in place that provides a malleable framework within which a judge must take into consideration numerous factors pertaining to whether or not the current custody or parenting plan should be modified. Updates to the material change standard have focused attention on what criteria will be used in making the determination of whether or not a specific change is “material” enough to consider making modifications to existing parenting time or custodial arrangements.
Unfortunately, there is no detailed description of what specific rules will determine whether or not a material change in circumstances has taken place. However, there are general guidelines by which Tennessee courts will abide in making decisions regarding child custody. These questions may include:
- Did the “material” change take place following the conclusion of the hearings regarding the order in question?
- Was the court unaware of the changes occurring at the time of the order’s entry?
- Does the change positively affect the child or children’s well-being?
Additionally, courts will also take into account the following:
- Material changes in circumstances will not require proving significant risk of harm directed at the child or children.
- Material changes of circumstances for the intent to modify a residential parental schedule may also include changes pertaining to age, the parent’s living situation or work conditions which may affect parental responsibilities, the inability to abide by the parenting plan, or any other circumstantial adjustments which make modifying of the PPP in the child’s best interest.
Important things to remember when considering filing for modification of a PPP:
- Specific changes in circumstances may have reasonably been foreseen at the time when the initial Permanent Parenting Plan was entered;
- Not every circumstantial change will necessarily be considered a material change by the court.
- Changes are required to be determined “significant” prior to being considered material. However, courts have a lower standard in establishing material changes.
- Providing evidence that existing custodial plans are significantly unworkable will meet the standard of proving material change.
Choose a Family Lawyer with a Record of Excellent Service
We at Nashville Law Offices, PLLC take pride in our ability to offer personalized client-oriented legal representation for those who are experiencing the difficult facets of family law. Our attorneys do their very best to ensure every client is completely confident and satisfied in their custody case. We view every new case we take as being completely unique, so every courtroom strategy is personalized for you and your specific case. Our goal is to provide the greater Nashville area with the best quality of legal representation at the lowest price points.
Throughout our almost 30 years of operation, Nashville Law Offices, PLLC has been able to culminate an understanding of the apprehensions, fears, frustrations, and uncertainties which come into play when dealing with attorneys. With this knowledge, we have been able to provide caring attention to detail and empathetic dispositions to those facing child custody issues throughout the Middle Tennessee area. We offer our clients the special attention they need to feel confident in their legal representation. Contact our office today to schedule your free initial consultation with a Tennessee child custody expert!