Child Custody Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee
Few legal issues raise as many emotions as child custody. It can be the most contentious subject in divorce or in the years after divorce as your life, your children’s, and your ex-spouse’s change. Part of the stress of child custody issues is caused by what you don’t know or understand about it. Although every case is unique, the legal process takes a common path. The court’s goal is constant: The best interests of the child are paramount.
If you are thinking of ending your marriage, your spouse has filed a divorce petition, or you want the court to modify an existing child custody agreement, who will protect your best interests? That is what Attorney Frank Brazil does for his clients in Nashville, Tennessee, and in communities throughout Rutherford County. If you are facing a child custody challenge, Brazil Clark, PLLC, can help.
What Are My Legal Options for Establishing a Child Custody Agreement?
Just as with divorce, your options for establishing a child custody agreement tend to depend on whether you and the other parent can reach a consensus on key issues.
If you can agree on issues including joint or sole physical and legal custody, which parent will be the primary residential parent, and how the visitation will be structured in the parenting plan, you and the other parent can draft a custody agreement and submit it to the court for approval. This approach can save time, expense, and often hurtful arguments. Although neither of you needs a family law attorney to do this, it is always helpful to have a lawyer’s support. Your attorney understands the full scope of issues that need to be addressed in the agreement, can keep negotiations with the other parent productive, and can draft what will be submitted to the court for approval.
If you and the other parent cannot find common ground on certain issues or on any of them, you will present your respective arguments in court and the judge will render a decision. Even if you go to court, you still are under no obligation to be represented by an attorney. However, you can see how having one to help you navigate the process and present your case will be beneficial to protecting your best interests, as well as your children’s.
What Types of Custody Are There?
The types of child custody can be confusing. Joint custody is shared by both parents. Sole custody is awarded only to one parent.
Legal custody involves major decisions made for the children, such as their schools, faith practices, medical care and treatment, and so forth. Physical custody, as the title implies, deals with who the children spend time with.
You should know that it is rare that the court awards sole legal or physical custody. That is because the court believes having both parents actively involved in the lives of their children is what is best for them. That said, sole custody may be awarded if a parent has a history of domestic or child abuse, substance abuse, or other issues that could be harmful to the children.
Joint custody implies that both parents share equally in decision-making and time. In some cases, that may indeed be accurate, but most of the time, one parent will be the primary residential parent. As such, the children spend more time with that parent, and because they do, that parent’s wishes regarding legal custody issues may carry more weight with the court if there are disagreements. Moreover, the primary residential parent will be the recipient of any child support award ordered by the court.
What Factors Will Be Considered in Granting Custody?
Although the underlying factor in any custody award is what’s best for the children, the court weighs multiple factors in its decision, beginning with what type of relationship the children have with each parent. The ages of the children would factor in here. For example, an infant or toddler is likely to have a much closer bond with a mother than a father. Who currently serves as the children’s primary caregiver is an important consideration.
The court also looks at how supportive each parent is of the other in their roles as parents and their willingness to support and encourage that bond. A parent’s willingness to put their children’s interests before their own is a key factor.
Each parent’s ability to provide a stable home for the children, their mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as their moral behavior will be considered as well. If any children are mature enough to express their wishes regarding custody, the judge will listen to them.
What If I Want an Existing Child Custody Agreement to Be Changed?
The court will agree to hear arguments regarding modification of child custody if the existing agreement no longer makes sense because the circumstances in your life, those of your children, or the other parent have changed since the original custody order was issued by the court.
The change in circumstances must be “material,” which means they need to be substantial enough to warrant revision. These would be major life changes such as a parent’s loss of employment or disability, a parent’s wish to relocate a significant distance away, a child’s now old enough to express their wishes regarding custody, a new marriage or new family of a parent, or a parent’s long-term lack of compliance with the existing child custody order.
Child Custody Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee
Attorney Frank Brazil cannot take away the emotions you have about custody of your children. What he can do is provide you with legal guidance, answer your questions fully and honestly, negotiate with the other parent, and make a case for your wishes in court. Start letting an experienced family law attorney begin protecting your interests in your child custody matter. Call Brazil Clark, PLLC, in Nashville, Tennessee, today.