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Attorney Randy Ratliff

Child Custody

Family Law Attorney Representing Residents of Nashville

The breakup of a marriage is always difficult, but this is especially true when there are young children involved. Issues such as child custody, visitation, and support are often at the forefront of the dissolution of a marriage in which a couple has children still living at home. Child custody issues also arise in situations in which the parents are not married. Nashville child custody lawyer Randy Ratliff can help you understand Tennessee law as it pertains to child custody cases, explain how the law applies to your particular situation, and work with you toward an appropriate outcome for your child and you. Retaining a family law attorney is an important step to take when your child’s future is at stake.

When deciding issues regarding the care, custody, and control of a minor child, Tennessee courts strive to do what is ultimately in the best interests of the child. While a child custody determination may be made as part of a couple’s divorce, the issue of who will have primary care of the children is a separate issue from who (if anyone) was at fault in the marriage or who will receive certain marital property. Of course, if the reason for the divorce is physical abuse, substance abuse, or something else that would potentially be harmful to a child, the court will likely take this into consideration.

Tennessee Law Concerning Permanent Parenting Plans

Over the past several years, the language used to describe custody arrangements has changed. Nowadays, a reference may be made to the “primary residential parent” or the “alternative residential parent,” rather than the “full custody” or “joint custody” terminology used in years past. While the goal is for both parents to participate in the children’s lives and for them to share in major decision-making, it is the parent who has primary residential custody who makes most of the day-to-day decisions regarding the child. Typically, the primary residential parent is the parent who spends the majority of the time with the child, but the court must designate a primary residential parent even if the parents split time evenly. Decisions regarding child custody are not set in stone, and a modification may be possible at some point in the future if there is a material change of circumstances that affects the child’s well-being. A child custody attorney in the Nashville area can help you pursue or defend against a modification if this situation arises.

Parents often wonder how old a child needs to be to make their own decision about which parent they want to be the primary residential parent. The answer is bit more complicated than you might think. Under Tennessee law, family court judges are required to “consider” the wishes of a child over the age of 12 if a parent requests that the court do so. However, this is not the same as saying that the child decides on their own. It just means that the child’s opinion will be considered, along with other factors, by the judge. Unless the judge believes that the child’s best interests will be served if custody is awarded to the child’s choice of parent, they do not need to award custody to that parent. In fact, such a maneuver could backfire if the judge believes that the child is being manipulated or coerced into making a “choice.” Talking to a judge about custody matters can be emotionally difficult for a child and sometimes causes more problems than it solves.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Nashville to Discuss Your Options

If you are considering a divorce as a parent of a young child, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer who regularly handles custody, support, and visitation cases, call the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, at 615-656-8282 or contact us online. Nashville child custody attorney Randy Ratliff also assists residents of Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Brentwood, and Cool Springs, as well as other cities in Williamson and Davidson Counties.