Tennessee’s New Maximum Parenting Time Law

tennessee parenting time law
The new “maximum” parenting time law in Tennessee is a step in the right direction in giving divorced dads much needed and deserved time with their children.

Judges’ attitudes on child custody issues don’t change overnight, but a new Tennessee child custody law is helping to jumpstart parenting-time decisions.

The new Tennessee parenting time law reads as follows:

“In taking into account the child’s best interest, the court shall order a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child consistent with the factors set out below, the location of the residences of the parents, the child’s need for stability and all other relevant factors.”

Tennessee’s First Step

This law is a first step in equalizing the parenting time that moms and dads are afforded by the court. Prior to this law, Tennessee fathers were normally awarded “reasonable visitation” with their children. But, even in instances of joint custody, mothers had the majority of the custodial time with the children.

The tenacious efforts of Tennessee fathers’ rights groups has forced the courts to change their attitudes towards the role of dads in the upbringing of their children. A dad periodically “dropping in” to their children’s lives has proven to be confusing and detrimental to children in their formative years. Children need the role modeling, stability, affection, and ongoing acceptance of both parents.

Of course, what is written into law and what happens in practice are going to take years to bring into balance, but at least the “maximum time” provision in Tennessee’s parenting law is a good, workable beginning.

Putting the New Custody Law Into Practice

A new “co-parenting” mindset will need to develop in family law judges, parents, mediators and counselors in implementing the “maximum parenting-time” provision of the Tennessee child custody law.

There are multitudes of ways that divorced parents can work together. For example, parents, under the maximum-time law, may choose to live in the same neighborhood or community solely for the parenting concerns, such as keeping the children in the same schools and maintaining maximum parenting time.

If the “test” parents of this new parenting-time law can put their failed marriages aside and adapt a cooperative mindset in parenting their children, the courts will view the new Tennessee shared parenting law as a successful one.

Only time will tell how parents will adjust to the new maximum-time theory behind the law. If judges see an influx of cases involving parental resistance to the new law, then they may lobby to undo it and relegate dads back to the all-familiar “visitor” category in their children’s lives. It is important that parents make the new law work.

Effect on Previous Tennessee Custody Orders

Parents whose custody and visitation orders were generated prior to the new law are still required to keep their current child custody arrangements in Tennessee. However, all new custody and parenting-time modifications will be based on the “maximum time” parenting law. The old orders cannot be modified unless one or both parents can show changed circumstances in one or both of their lives.

Still, the new “maximum” parenting time law is a step in the right direction in giving divorced dads much needed and deserved time with their children.

Tennessee Divorce Lawyer

With offices in Memphis, Nashville, and Franklin, Cordell & Cordell Tennessee divorce lawyers can help you navigate any aspect of Tennessee divorce laws, including new parenting time and custody laws.