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How to File for Joint Custody in Tennessee

Sharing parental obligations for the good of your children

Family courts in Tennessee favor a joint child custody arrangement in which parents share responsibilities for the health and welfare of his or her children and take turns housing them. This allows your children to maintain some stability in their lives and to have an opportunity for a healthy, loving relationship with both parents. However, it’s important to remember that joint does not mean equal. Nor does agreeing to share responsibilities mean you are willing to submit to any decision your ex-spouse makes. At The Law office of Karen Cain, we help our clients arrive at fair custody settlements. After more than 30 years of family law practice, I know how necessary it is to consider potential points of dispute and build in mechanisms to resolve conflicts before they have a negative effect on your children.

What are the ways two parents can share child custody?

Most child custody arrangements do not give full custody to one parent. However, joint custody does not necessarily mean sharing equally in all parental responsibilities. There are many different custody combinations a court may consider, based on the needs of the children and the abilities of the parents:

  • Full physical custody with joint legalcustody — One parent provides a home, but both parents participate in decisions about the child’s upbringing. This is appropriate when one parent has career obligations that prevent custody, but is still a responsible individual who is involved in the child’s life. The noncustodial parent will have parenting time (visitation) rights.
  • Joint custody with tie-breaking authority In this situation, parents would share physical and legal custody, but on issues where parents disagree, one parent would be designated to have the final say. Final say could attach to physical custody in an arrangement in which the parent with whom the child is residing at the time can decide a particular issue. This usually only works to resolve one-time problems that don’t have long-term consequences. A parent may also have tie-breaking authority on issues related to a parent’s area of expertise. For instance, a parent with a medical background may have final say regarding the health of a child with special needs.
  • Joint custody with neutral arbitrator Parents separately competent, but who cannot work well together, may arrange an arbitrator to hear disputes they cannot resolve themselves.

Before you enter a joint custody agreement, you must have a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities you are willing and able to assume, and of those you are unwilling to surrender. It is always necessary to compromise to arrive at a joint custody settlement, but I can help you achieve a balanced compromise with fair terms for you and your children.

Call on Karen Cain for help obtaining a fair resolution to your joint custody dispute

Contact The Law Office of Karen Cain for experienced, efficient, cost-effective representation in child custody disputes. Since choosing the right attorney should not cost you money, we offer free initial consultations. I answer your questions, evaluate your case and give you an estimate of my fees. My Nashville office is easily accessible by public transportation and local interstates.

Karen Cain, Attorney at Law serves clients in the metro-Nashville Davidson County area and all middle Tennessee counties.


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