For over 20 years, Turner Law Offices, P.C. has helped thousands of families in Nashville and surrounding counties in child custody cases. Our child custody attorneys are empathetic and caring, and understand the emotions and frustrations that are involved in custody and visitation matters. The best custody lawyers not only understand the law, but they understand child psychology, and understand the emotions and sadness often experienced by children when their parents disagree on custody and parenting time.
Sole custody, joint custody, and visitation are antiquated terms and are no longer in the vocabulary of Tennessee judges and attorneys. These terms, which most clients and some lawyers continue to use today, have been replaced by the legal terms primary residential parent (PRP) and alternate residential parent (ARP). The parent with whom the child resides most of the time is the PRP; the other parent with whom the child spends less than equal time is the ARP. To use antiquated phrases, all custody is now “joint custody”; the goal is to determine who the children will live with most of the time, and what residential schedule the children will have with the other parent. Under Tennessee law, the court is required to maximize the time the children spend with the ARP. Shared parenting is when the children spend equal time, i.e. 182.5 days, with each parent. In discussing custody cases, the terms “custody” and “primary residential parent” are used interchangeably. Under Tennessee Law, in all custody cases, parents are required to enter into a Permanent Parenting Plan which addresses all issues regarding the parent’s minor children, including the number of days the child spends with each parent, child support, and decision making.
When a parent seeks to change an existing custody or Permanent Parenting Plan, the threshold question is whether a material change in circumstances has occurred. The standard, as it now exists, provides a flexible framework within which the judge considers a number of factors when determining whether an existing custody or parenting time arrangement should be modified. The evolution of the “material change in circumstances” standard has focused on the criteria for determining whether a particular change in circumstances is “material” enough to require reconsideration of an existing custody or parenting time arrangement. There are no bright-line rules for determining whether a material change in circumstances has occurred. To determine whether a material change in circumstances exists, the court considers the following:
If the issue before the court is a modification of the court’s prior decree pertaining to a residential parenting schedule, then the parent seeking modification must prove a material change of circumstances affecting the child’s best interest. A material change of circumstances does not require a showing of a substantial risk of harm to the child. A material change of circumstances for purposes of modification of a residential parenting schedule may include, but is not limited to, significant changes in the needs of the child over time, which may include changes relating to age; significant changes in the parent’s living or working condition that significantly affect parenting, failure to adhere to the parenting plan; or other circumstances making a change in residential parenting time in the best interest of the child. The Tennessee Supreme Court has recently decided that the particular change in circumstances could reasonably have been anticipated at the time of the entry of the original Permanent Parenting Plan. Not every change in the circumstances of either a child or a parent will qualify as a material change in circumstances. The change must be “significant” before it will be considered material, and the courts set a very low threshold for establishing a material change of circumstances. Proof that an existing custody arrangement is unworkable in a significant way is sufficient to satisfy the “material change in circumstances” standard.
Turner Law Offices, P.C. is proud to hire and to retain client-oriented attorneys that are highly educated and trained to assure total client confidence and satisfaction in child custody cases. By viewing each client matter as unique, the Firm provides personalized legal representation in a variety of practice areas. Our commitment is to provide you the highest quality legal representation at the lowest costs. We understand and the apprehension and uncertainty that exists when speaking with an attorney, and we strive to relieve that discomfort when someone retains our Firm. Our clients enjoy a team of well-trained legal professionals including attorneys, paralegals, and legal secretaries that work together utilizing the team approach to achieve our commitments to our clients.
Contact us today for your no obligation, free initial consultation. We have flexible payment plans with low down payments. Let our family start helping your family today!