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Tennessee Supreme Court allows modification of child custody plan

Most Tennessee parents would agree that their children are their greatest joy. That is why, in divorce proceedings, child custody and visitation rights are often contentious. The parents' divorce can have a long-term impact on a child and thus, a proper parenting plan that protects the best interests of the child is essential.

Discussing parenting plans, the Tennessee Supreme Court recently held that a parent can modify a pre-existing permanent parenting plan without having to show an unexpected change of cirusmtances that makes the old parenting plan obsolete. The Court made this ruling after hearing a case in which a father had sought a modification of his parenting plan because he wanted more time with his children.

The couple divorced when their son was three and their daughter was one. The residential parenting plan devised at that time granted the mother 280 days with the children, whereas the father was granted only 85 days

Two years after the divorce, the father approached the court, seeking to modify the initial parenting plan in order to get more time with his children. The request was based on factors such as relocation of his residence and his dentistry practice; he had remarried, and his current wife had established a good relationship with the children and with his ex-wife. Also, the fact that the children were now two years older was cited as a reason by the father for being granted more time with his children.

The father's request was granted by the family court, and that court gave him 143 days annually with the children. However, this decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals. In its recent ruling, the Supreme Court reinstated the first court's ruling on the basis of a 2004 law that facilitates modification of a parenting schedule.

It is important that residential parenting plans are structured in such a manner that both parents can contribute the maximum participation possible in the upbringing of their child. When it is possible, parents may choose to resolve child custody disputes amicably with the help of experience family law attorneys in order to avoid unnecessary litigation.

Source: The Chattanoogan.com, "State supreme court rules on parenting plans law," Oct. 21, 2013

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