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Child Custody Attorney
in Knoxville & Farragut, Tennessee

Child custody is often the primary concern for divorcing parents. Many divorce-related disputes arise because parents fight over child custody and visitation schedules. Unlike other states, Tennessee law uses the term “parenting responsibilities.” Parenting responsibilities include duties associated with the physical, intellectual, financial, and emotional well-being of the child.

At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, our family law attorney understands the impact child custody can have on both parents and their children. That is why Mr. Reed and his team are dedicated to helping parents with compassion and seeking the most favorable outcome in their case. Our team is located in Knoxville, Tennessee, but our knowledgeable Tennessee divorce attorney also serves clients in Farragut and the surrounding areas with child custody and visitation matters.

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Establishing a Child
Custody Arrangement

Knox County, which includes Knoxville and Farragut, accounted for the second-highest number of divorces in Tennessee (1,728 divorces), surpassed only by Shelby County with over 2,000 divorces in 2019, according to the official website of the Tennessee State Government.

When a divorce involves minor children, there are two main options for establishing a child custody arrangement in Tennessee:

  1. Agree on the terms of the arrangement on your own. The separating or divorcing parents have the option of agreeing on the terms of the child custody arrangement on their own. However, they would still need to present the agreement to the judge for approval. Out-of-court agreements are usually the fastest and least expensive option for establishing a child custody arrangement in Tennessee.

  2. Take your child custody case to court. If the parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, they will have to take their case to court to allow the judge to decide. A judge considers several factors when establishing the most appropriate custody arrangement. Parties need to hire an attorney to help them present their case to the judge in the most compelling manner possible to ensure a favorable outcome.

Child Custody in Tennessee

Tennessee law recognizes several types of child custody. Custody arrangements include physical and legal custody:

  1. Physical custody gives a parent the right to have their child reside with them; and

  2. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including medical care, education, religion, and others.

In most cases, Tennessee courts prefer to award a joint custody arrangement where both parents share physical and legal custody. However, depending on the circumstances, a court may also consider alternative arrangements including,

  • Joint legal and physical conservatorship. Both parents have physical and legal custody of the child.

  • Joint conservatorship. While both parents share physical custody, only one parent is awarded legal custody.

  • Sole custody. Only one parent has physical and legal custody.

When awarding sole custody to one parent, the court may consider allowing the other parent to have supervised visitation, also known as supervised parenting time. Typically, Tennessee courts consider supervised parenting time a necessary precautionary measure only when the child has been neglected, abused, and or the parent has substance abuse problems.

Factors Considered in Determining
Child Custody in Tennessee

When determining child custody, courts in Tennessee are required to consider the best interests of the child. The law requires courts to consider the following factors when establishing the most appropriate custody arrangement:

  1. The relationship between the parents and the child

  2. The ability of the parents to provide necessary care to the child

  3. The stability of the family unit

  4. The parents’ physical and mental health

  5. The expressed preference of the child unless the child is younger than 12

  6. Whether or not the child suffered physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

These and other factors may impact the court’s decision when determining a child custody arrangement. When considering the appropriate custody arrangement, the court cannot give preference to a parent based on the parent’s gender.

Modifying an Existing
Child Custody Arrangement

In some cases, parents who have an existing child custody arrangement may wish to make changes to the arrangement. Doing so requires the party seeking changes to request a modification from the court. Tennessee law requires the parent seeking to modify an existing custody arrangement to demonstrate proof of a substantial change in circumstances. Common examples of events that may warrant a modification of child custody include:

  • The loss of a job

  • The increase or decrease in the parent’s income

  • Acts of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

  • A child reaching the age of 12 to choose themselves

  • Physical or mental health problems of the parent or child

If you wish to change your child custody arrangement, speak with an experienced attorney. An attorney will help you prove a substantial change in circumstances to warrant a modification.

Child Custody Attorney Serving Knoxville & Farragut, Tennessee

Whether you need help agreeing to a child custody arrangement out of court, presenting your arguments to a judge, seeking or opposing a modification of child custody, our team at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed can help. Mr. Reed and his team handle all matters related to child custody in Knoxville and Farragut, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas. Discuss your unique case with Mr. Reed by reaching out to our law office today.