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Changing a child custody arrangement in Tennessee

Like any child who is unfortunately part of a custody situation in the United States, Tennessee children are affected most by contentious custody battles. As parents fight it out in court, children often worry about who will take custody and provide for them. To help children experience the least uncertainty about their future, many courts prefer to give legal custody to both parents.

If there has been a significant change in circumstances the child custody arrangement may change. This may include a material change in circumstances, which means a parent has failed to comply with the child custody plan or the current plan is not in the best interest of the child. However, in Tennessee, a change without much substance usually does not require change the child custody plan.

No proper definition exits for what constitutes a material change in circumstances. The court will determine and measure whether the change is in the best interest of the child. According to the Tenn. Code Ann. §36-6-106(a), the court will consider several factors, such as the emotional bond between the children and parents, each parent's ability to take care of the child, the child's preference for custody and so on.

According to the Tennessee Code Ann. §36-6-404, the court will also consider the developmental requirements of the child and the willingness of the parent who has child custody, to foster a closer bond with the other parent. The court enjoys discretion in these matters and will consider only the best interest of the child in matters related to change in child custody.

According to Tennessee family courts, if a parent relocates a child to another state to be vindictive or punitive to the other parent, then that is a material change in circumstances demanding a change in child custody plans.

Source: Tennessee Bar Association, "Modification of Permanent Parenting Plans in Tennessee," Marlene Moses, Accessed on Dec.18, 2014

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