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The do's and don'ts of child custody and parenting time

Parenting time or visitation in Tennessee often becomes a contentious issue between former spouses and can end up in a legal battle. What is meant to foster healthy child development by allowing quality time with a noncustodial parent can become something definitely not in the best interests of the child.

Visitation arrangements are settled during divorce proceedings and specified in a binding legal document. When separating parents cannot agree on who gets primary custody, a court will decide. In Tennessee, gender does not determine who gets primary custody.

Conflict commonly develops over visitation when the custodial parent refuses parenting time to the former spouse. If the mother is refusing visitations, then she's violating the father's rights, and her ex-husband can file for contempt of court. If he retaliates by withholding court-mandated child support, then this also amounts to contempt because parenting time and child support are not linked.

Frequently, a noncustodial parent decides not to cooperate by ignoring stipulations about parenting time, perhaps picking up a child late or returning the child well after parenting time has ended. This custodial interference can have legal consequences. In Tennessee, a judge can punish the noncustodial parent by raising the amount of statutory child support using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines.

Disputes over parenting time are best solved by open and honest communication between the parents with the idea that both of them must act in the best interests of their child. An aggrieved noncustodial parent can make the point that his or her visitation rights are being violated and that legal action is always an option. A Tennessee court is likely to take a dim view of denial of parenting time.

Source: The Huffington Post, "What not to do if your spouse denies you parenting time", Joseph E. Cordell, Nov.19, 2013

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The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
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Clarksville, TN 37040

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