When parents divorce, and their household is divided, determining who will have custody is often a difficult experience. But when custody is set, what often happens is that the child lives with one parent most of the time (the primary residential parent) and the other parent is granted visitation. Even when both parents share legal and physical custody, the child usually spends more nights with one parent than the other. This can leave one parent feeling as though he or she is in the dark about the important decisions being made.
In Tennessee, both parents have rights when it comes to their children. If you are not the primary residential parent, it is important to know what those rights are, and which tools are in place to help protect them.
The importance of the parenting plan agreement in Tennessee child custody
During the divorce, both parents have the opportunity to develop a parenting plan, which outlines where the child will live. it also includes a visitation schedule, a plan for holidays and vacations, and for the child’s health, educational, recreational and religious needs. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, the court may direct them to a mediator, or the court may have to decide about custody if mediation fails to yield an agreement.
Tennessee parents’ Bill of Rights
In 2014, Tennessee lawmakers decided to clarify the parents’ Bill of Rights. The best interests of the child are the most important consideration, and as such, non-custodial parents have the following rights under the law:
- Unimpeded telephone calls at least twice a week
- Access to uncensored mail
- Right to receive health information as soon as possible, and within 24 hours for a hospitalization, severe illness or death of the child
- Right to receive copies of the child’s school records
- Right to receive copies of the child’s medical records
- Right to be free from derogatory remarks about family members in the child’s presence
- Right to at least 48 hours’ notice for extra-curricular activities
- Right to know the details about when the other parent leaves the state with the child for more than two days
- Right of access and participation in the child’s education and other activities
The parent with primary residential custody of the child does not have the right to interfere with the rights of the parent with visitation. If you find yourself in a situation where your co-parent is interfering with your right to be in communication with your child when they are not with you, if the other parent is denying you your court-ordered visitation, or if they are in any way interfering with your custody rights, you can consult a Nashville family law attorney who can help protect your rights.
If you are planning to divorce and you have children to consider, you are invited to speak with a Nashville divorce lawyer who will advocate for you in your child’s best interests. Please call 615-391-4200 or contact the legal team at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC for more information about a consultation time.
Karla C. Miller has devoted her entire career to the practice of family law in Tennessee. She attended Auburn University and Nashville School of Law, and upon graduation in 1996, she opened her own law firm and has been assisting families throughout Tennessee since then. Learn more about Karla C. Miller here.