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What it means to have visitation or custody rights

Parents in Tennessee may be granted custody or visitation rights to a child after a divorce or separation. While these both involve being able to spend time with a son or daughter, they aren't the same. One of the key differences between custody and having visitation rights involves the power to make decisions about a child's upbringing. Another key difference is that parents who only have visitation rights may not be able to have said visitation at their home.

In situations where one parent is given primary custody of a child, the other parent might still play a significant role in the child's life. In some cases, both parents will divide parenting time and other responsibilities in half. It is also possible that a parent will have limited visitation based on a schedule created by a court. It is not uncommon for a noncustodial parent to see a child on weekends and one night a week.

Unmarried fathers get access to their children too

As a general rule, parents in Tennessee and other states have the right to establish a relationship with their children. In some cases, a father may be granted custody of his child even if he is not married to the child's mother. If a father is not granted custody, he will typically be granted visitation rights assuming that it is in the best interest of the child to do so.

Visitation rights can be determined by the parents themselves or as part of a court order. Parents are generally allowed to create a parenting plan on their own when they are willing and able to work with each other in good faith. Otherwise, a judge will stipulate when a father is allowed to see his children. In many cases, visitation will take place on weekends or during school breaks. However, a judge can create any type of schedule that is in the child's best interest.

Same-sex couple adoption: Your rights in Tennessee

Today, the United States recognizes the value of a same-sex couple's relationship. Same-sex couples can get married, have families and live relatively normal lives compared to heterosexual couples. Despite that, many homosexual couples worry that they won't be able to adopt.

The reality is that a same-sex couple can be great parents, just as a heterosexual couple can be great parents. There are approximately 594,000 same-sex households throughout the United States, and of them, around 115,000 contain children. While there is a claim made by some people that children need mothers and fathers, the reality is that gender doesn't truly matter when raising a child.

How unwed fathers can obtain rights to their children

In Tennessee and most other states, unmarried fathers generally have rights to a child after establishing paternity. This is true even in cases involving fathers who have acknowledged paternity without any proof to back up that claim. However, once paternity is confirmed, fathers can typically ask for visitation or custody rights to their sons or daughters. They may also be required to pay child support or otherwise assist in raising a child.

Establishing paternity may occur in a couple of different ways. First, a prospective father could ask for a DNA test to prove that he is biologically related to the child. Alternatively, it could be enough to sign an affidavit acknowledging that he is the father of the child. In such a scenario, the mother would also have to sign the form for it to be recognized. Generally speaking, simply adding a father's name to a birth certificate is not enough to establish paternity.

How unmarried Tennessee dads can establish rights to their kids

For the most part, all unmarried dads are allowed to negotiate custody and visitation rights. Courts generally agree that if it is in the best interests of the child, both parents should be involved in a child's life. However, if one parent believes that a child's relationship with the other parent could be destructive, they could petition the court to hear their case.

While laws vary from state to state, Tennessee unwed fathers have the choice to sing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity when their child is born at the hospital. This form might also be signed later through the Health Department or a child support office. If one parent questions paternity, however, DNA testing will be required.

Fathers often have to fight for child custody

A stereotypical image of an unmarried couple having a child shows the mother bearing full responsibility for the upbringing while the father attempts to avoid both financial and parenting duties. Although this may be true in individual cases, there are an increasing number of Tennessee couples having children out of wedlock where the father desires to and fully expects to be part of the child's life. However, that may not happen without a fight.

According to state law, when a child is born to an unmarried couple, the mother has both physical custody and legal custody at birth. The father must first establish paternity before any parental rights attach. Paternity is not established by including the father's name on the birth certificate but may be established through acknowledgement, agreement, court order or DNA testing. However, establishing paternity does not automatically mean the father has visitation or custody rights.

Percentage of unmarried parents is increasing

It's becoming more common than ever before for Tennessee children to be born outside a marriage. According to a 2015 study, 40 percent of children in the U.S. were born outside marriage. This statistic represents a significant increase since 1970 when only 10 percent of children were born outside marriage.

Comparatively, more children are born outside marriage in the European Union. In the EU, 60 percent of children were born outside marriage in 2015 while 20 percent were born outside marriage in 1970.

3 ways to bring up the wish for a prenuptial agreement

You want to get married to your partner, and you've been eagerly awaiting the day. However, you have many assets that you're not sure you want to risk if either of you end up divorcing in the future.

It's not that you think a divorce is likely, but there is no way to be certain. Should you consider a prenuptial agreement? You don't want to be offensive or to cast doubt onto your soon-to-be marriage.

More immigrant parents are appointing guardians for their kids

If parents in Tennessee get deported, they might leave their children behind in America. Among children who are being raised by extended family members, about 20 percent live in an immigrant household. This shows that many deported parents are relying on grandparents, aunts and uncles to raise their kids in the U.S.

Increasingly strict enforcement of immigration law means that the numbers of these children are growing. Some states have taken steps that allow parents to arrange for custody in the event that they are deported. In New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, bills have passed or been introduced that allow parents to appoint guardians in the event of immigration issues without giving up their parental rights. While children generally do better with family members (and placement with family members reduces the strain on the foster system), grandparents and others may be unable to access some benefits.

What to do before a child custody hearing

Parents in Tennessee and throughout the country who are looking to obtain custody of their children will first need to attend a hearing. To prepare, they should read up on the custody laws in the state and how they may apply in a given case. Furthermore, it is a good idea to bring documentation showing that a parent has played an active role in a child's life.

These documents may include proof of child support payments or logs detailing phone or email conversations between the parent and child. During the hearing itself, an individual should remain calm and polite. Yelling at the judge or the other parent could reduce the likelihood that he or she will be seen as the better parent to grant custody to. Generally speaking, there is no need for outbursts as the child custody hearing process tends not to be an adversarial one.

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Law Office of Lisa Collins Werner 9724 Kingston Pike, Suite 1101 Knoxville, TN 37922 Phone: 865-973-9286 Fax: 865-691-0025 Knoxville Law Office Map

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