CHILD CUSTODY & MODIFICATION
The determination and modification of child custody are some of the most contentious issues involved between parents in divorce and post-divorce disputes. The attorneys at LawCare - Family Law Center in Brentwood, Tennessee have significant experience helping clients throughout middle Tennessee work through complex child custody matters. Firm founder, Connie Reguli, has a background in psychology and is committed to ensuring the interests of children are served throughout any child custody or custody modification hearings.
Child custody is about what is in the best interest of the child. Experience has shown us those child custody agreements developed through mediation often allow for a better co-parenting relationship. Mediation allows the parents to discuss and work through the specific issues that are important to them, such as private school, daycare, choice of doctor, sports, and education while determining what is in the best interest of their children.
When courts determine custody of children, the trial judge looks at a variety of factors:
Ability to financially support the child
Stability of the family or living situation
Lack of necessary medical, mental health, or dental attention for the child
The love and affection between the parent and child
The character of others who frequent the home where the child resides
The parent that has primarily provided for the daily needs of the child
The parent’s ability to encourage the relationship between the child and the other parent
Interference by one parent in the other parent's ability to effectively parent a child. This often includes issues involving substance abuse, drugs, alcohol, prescription drug abuse
Behavioral problems in one of the parent's homes
Since custody and modification of custody agreements are primarily about what is in the best interest of the child, the law in Tennessee provides that the Judge SHALL consider the reasonable preference of a child that is twelve years old or older. Most children are not emotionally ready to choose a parent and it is very difficult to put a child in front of a judge to talk about his parents. However, sometimes the child is the only witness.
Teenagers create a different challenge for the Court. We have experienced articulate mature teens who can express how they think their parenting schedule would best serve their needs and challenges, controlling teens who just want to make their own rules. We will interview the child before their testimony so we can identify the child’s intent before the hearing. Under Tennessee law, other persons can testify about the statements of children under 13 in custody trials. This rule was intended to keep children from having to testify but has actually had the reverse effect because children are now called to testify to rebut the hearsay testimony of a parent.
That is why we encourage mediation between parents, so they can work out custody agreements that work for them and prevent the child from having to choose a parent. There are many types of custody arrangements: sole custody, joint custody, or joint residential custody. Your parenting plan will lay out the details for the children’s residential time and other needs. Our attorneys are committed to helping our clients tailor custody arrangements that are specific to the needs of children and their family.