Tennessee state lawmakers are considering a bill that could make it easier for fathers to get joint custody of their children after divorce. The proposed law would create a presumption for judges that it's best for children when parents share custody.
If you're working with your co-parent towards a custody agreement or if the two of you can't reach an agreement and the matter is going to a judge to decide, you'll likely hear a lot of talk about what's in the "best interests" of your children. Family courts throughout the country, including those here in Tennessee, use this as a determining factor in deciding custody cases.
The joy of fatherhood is a gift to be cherished and revered, but not all fathers have the legal right to spend time with their children. In some cases, for example, a mother will deny that someone is the father, so she can raise the child on her own. In these cases, the biological father may be able to fight in court to establish his child custody rights. In the modern era of genetic testing, this process is, fortunately, a lot easier than it was in the past.
The question of who served as primary caretaker of your children during your marriage is an important one when it comes to the resolution of child custody disputes. If your dispute were to go to trial, for example, a family law court would likely give more weight and power to the person it deems to be the "primary caretaker."
The addresses and contact information of you and your co-parent will no doubt change over the course of raising your child. As a single parent, it's important that you have the ability to contact the other parent at any time. As such, any changes to one parent's contact information need to be given to the other parent as soon as possible.
Not only is it best for children to spend as much time as possible with both parents, but it's also -- in most cases -- the legal right of both parents to spend time with their children. This issue is important when considering the rights of an unmarried father, who may find that his ex is trying to prevent him from spending time with his child.
There are two primary circumstances in which the paternity of an alleged father becomes critical in Tennessee family law. First, a mother might need to prove paternity to force the father of her children to contribute child support. Second, a father might need to prove paternity in order to gain parental, custody or visitation rights relating to his children.
The life of a single parent is not always convenient, and it's especially inconvenient when the parents live a long distance away from one another. However, Tennessee courts allow for long-distance parenting plans that ensure children have a chance to spend time with both parents, even if they live a long way away from one another.
Many years ago, when two parents got divorced, Tennessee fathers invariably got the short end of the stick. In the vast majority of cases, the mother would receive full custody of the children. As such, the children would live with the mother full-time and the father would only receive visitation rights. Sometimes, those visitations were few and far between. Perhaps a father would only get to see his kids for a little while during the summer, every other weekend or just a couple times a month.
In the past, unmarried fathers were very much out of luck when it came to establishing paternity. Before the advent of blood testing and DNA testing, there was very little one could do to prove -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- that a particular man was the father of a particular child. However, these days, the process of proving and establishing paternity has become fairly routine.