Amanda Crowell Partner
Do I have to agree to divide parenting time 50-50 with my soon-to-be former spouse?
Recent revisions to the divorce laws in Tennessee require the courts to attempt to maximize the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child or children in fashioning a parenting plan. Sometimes the judge will decide that this means that a 50-50 division of time will accomplish this goal; however, there are many factors that a judge must take into account in determining a parenting schedule, and the most important is always the best interests of the child. You do not have to agree to any division of parenting time that you do not believe is in your child or children’s best interests. A good divorce attorney can help you determine what is likely to happen in court based upon the circumstances of your case, your children’s specific needs, and the usual preferences of the judge who will ultimately decide your matter.
The number of days each parent spends with the minor child or children will impact your life in many ways. Not only does it impact who is named as primary parent but it also affects the amount of child support paid and the standard which the judge will use in determining whether a parent can later take the child when moving more than 50 miles away from the other parent or outside the State of Tennessee.
It is important to remember that once filed with the court, a parenting plan cannot be easily changed. It becomes a court order, and unless you can prove a legally defined substantial and material change of circumstance, the parenting plan will remain in place until the child or children reach the age of majority.
Many people make the mistake of agreeing to a parenting plan without hiring an attorney to explain to them the long term consequences of such an agreement and to represent to the court what they believe is in their child’s best interests. Many times, they are then bound by a plan that they do not believe is right for them or their children with no way to remedy the situation.
When you realize how much is at stake, you will understand the importance of having an attorney on your side through the divorce process.