Tennessee’s child custody laws instruct the Courts to maximize both parents’ time with their children. Within that context, the law sets out a list of “best interest” factors to guide the Court in determining parenting time arrangements for children.


UNMARRIED PARENTS: If two parents were never married, Tennessee law automatically vests custody with the Mother and requires the father to legally establish his paternity with the Court. This is required, even if the father is listed on the birth certificate, and is essential to protect the father’s parental rights. For unmarried parents, custody cases are typically brought in Juvenile

MARRIED PARENTS: If you are married, both you and your spouse each have full custody of the children. When you go through a divorce, however, the Court will either require you to agree on a parenting plan that sets out a custody schedule for your children, or the Court will conduct a hearing and set a parenting plan for you.

DIVORCED PARENTS: If you are divorced but want to modify an existing parenting plan, the state of Tennessee will requires both parents to go to mediation to attempt to resolve any disputes or disagreements about the parenting plan prior to going back before the Court to request changes to the parenting plan. To request a modification to an existing parenting plan, you must show that there has been a material change of circumstances since the divorce such that it is in the best interests of the children to change the custody arrangement.

EMERGENCY SITUATIONS: Sometimes, circumstances arise that reach an emergency level. In very extreme situations where a child is subject to immediate risk of substantial and irreparable harm, the Court can grant emergency ex parte relief to give one parent custody pending a court hearing. These are extreme situations, but if you have concerns about an emergency custody situation, talk with one of our experienced attorneys about your options going forward.


The attorneys at Jones, Green, & Tackett Law, PLLC, pride themselves in crafting unique parenting plans that are customized to your specific situation and designed to last as long as possible and be as flexible as possible.

Whether you have questions about your parental rights, are seeking to amicably set a parenting schedule, or have a hotly contested custody case, we are here to help answer your questions and provide experienced, dedicated legal service. Contact us today to learn more.