Research concerning how children respond to divorce is clear about the importance of keeping both parents in a child’s life, if both parents are fit. Despite how important it is for a child to have positive relationships with both parents, sometimes a Tennessee custody order only gives one parent minimal access to or time with their children.
A very uneven parenting plan or an arrangement that gives one parent visitation without overnight stays can feel like a judgment on someone’s parenting ability and possibly also an insurmountable obstacle for a parent who just wants to spend time with the children they love.
Thankfully, Tennessee does allow for custody modifications or formal updates to custody orders after a change in family circumstances. This opportunity can potentially facilitate more time with one’s kids if an existing order is not sufficiently even. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re preparing for a contested modification hearing.
Address the issues that have led to a change in circumstances
The way the courts decide to divide parental responsibilities will be a reflection of how they view the family circumstances. Often, judges will reference specific concerns when making decisions that favor one parent over the other. Issues with substance abuse or domestic violence, a lack of stable employment or seemingly unsafe housing arrangements are all concerns that would influence how a judge divides parenting time and authority.
For those with a history of substance abuse, undergoing counseling could convince a judge that they have improved enough to have more access to the children. Counseling and parenting classes could help support the case of someone accused of angry outbursts or inappropriate discipline. Records of professional services and possibly testimony from professionals or acquaintances can help establish that someone has improved their situation.
Keep in mind that what the children need is the top priority
All too often, parents seeking to regain time with their children become fixated on what they view as a violation of their rights as a parent instead of keeping what would be best for the children their top priority. The wrong focus can influence how a judge perceives a parent. Using the children’s needs and developments as the basis for arguments presented in family court will often be more effective than focusing on appearance rights.
Additionally, it is worth noting that professional advocacy is often invaluable for those with limited parental rights. Even a minor angry outburst could significantly impact the likelihood of success when a parent with a history of volatility wants more time with their children. Proper legal representation can make a big difference for a parent who is hoping to increase how much time they get to spend with their children via modified child custody arrangements.