Understanding Unwed Custody Laws in Tennessee

We can assist unwed parents during custody disputes

It is increasingly common for parents to spend years in stable and beneficial relationships without ever going through the formality of marriage. Just like marriage, these relationships can sometimes come to an end. While much of this process is strictly between the parties, to the extent a separation affects children of the union, court involvement may be necessary to establish each parent’s custody and support rights. While the laws and processes in Tennessee are similar to the divorce process, there are some practical differences unwed parents in this situation should expect. Our experienced family law attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC can guide you through every step of the process and help you reach a result beneficial to you and your child.

How custody laws apply to unmarried parents

By and large, Tennessee child custody laws make little distinction between married and unmarried parents. The most prominent difference is that, in the instance of an unmarried couple, it is necessary for the father to establish his paternity before seeking visitation or custody. When a child is born to married parents, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the father. However, when parents are not married, no presumption exists except in certain circumstances.

The custody process for unwed parents

While custody proceedings between married parents usually occur alongside the other components of divorce, child custody proceedings involving unwed parents usually stand alone and must be initiated by a separate filing with a Tennessee court. Beyond that, the process is essentially the same. The parties can attempt to negotiate a custody arrangement and parenting plan and submit it for court approval. If the court approves, the plan becomes a custody order carrying the force of law. If the parents cannot agree or the court rejects the plan they submit, they may be required to go through mediation to arrive at an approvable plan. If mediation fails, a court may need to decide the contested issues and impose a custody arrangement and parenting plan that it believes to be in the best interests of the child.

Call us today for help establishing your custody and/or parental rights

Unwed parents in Nashville are frequently unsure of the steps they need to take to establish their custody and/or parental rights. However our attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC can walk you through every step of the process. We maintain an office within sight of the Davidson County Courthouse and have easy access to free parking. Call us today at 615-391-4200 or contact us online to set up a consultation with a caring and knowledgeable child custody attorney.