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Understanding child custody

Child custody laws differ from state-to-state, so it is important to be familiar with child custody laws in the state where the parents and child reside and to understand what the child custody laws are. In general, child custody considerations are always based on what is in the best interests of the child and achieving a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

In general, if the parents are unable to agree on a child custody agreement, the family law court will decide child custody based on the Judge's determination of what is in the best interests of the child. In Tennessee, parents can share joint custody of the child and depending on the age of the child the wishes of the child when making child custody decisions. Custody can be awarded to one parent or can be shared between parents. Noncustodial parents, however, have important rights in Tennessee related to their children.

Noncustodial parents have rights to their children in Tennessee including unimpeded phone calls at least twice a week; uncensored access via mail; the right to receive important information in a timely manner and within 24 hours of hospitalization or serious illness; the right to receive medical records; the right to directly access school records; the right to receive 48-hours notice concerning extra-curricular activities; the right to participate in the child's education; the right to an itinerary when the custodial parent leaves the state with the child for greater than two days; and the right to be free from derogatory remarks concerning family member's in the child's presence.

Child custody concerns can raise emotions and stress which is why it is important for parents to remain focused on what is in the best interests of the child. Understanding how the family law process works, and how child custody is determined in Tennessee, can help parents know what to expect from a child custody arrangement which can be helpful to minimize conflicts sometimes associated with child custody.

Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Child Custody Laws," accessed Aug. 3, 2017

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James H. Snyder Attorney at Law
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