Tennessee Divorce Guide

Parenting Plans

Requirements of a parenting plan

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In all actions for absolute divorce, legal separation, annulment, or separate maintenance involving a minor child, a temporary parenting plan must be incorporated into any temporary order by the court. The court will approve a temporary parenting plan:

  • If the parties can agree to a temporary parenting plan, no written temporary parenting plan is required to be entered; or
  • If the parties cannot agree, either or both parties may request the court to order dispute resolution. The court may order dispute resolution, but if it is not available, the parties may request an expedited hearing to establish a temporary parenting plan. In either mediation or in a hearing before the court each party must submit a proposed temporary parenting plan and a verified statement of income. If only one (1) party files a proposed temporary parenting plan in compliance with this section, that party may petition the court for an order adopting that party’s plan by default, upon a finding by the court that the plan is in the child’s best interest. In determining whether the proposed temporary parenting plan serves the best interests of the child, the court will be governed by the allocation of residential time and support obligations contained in the child support guidelines. [TN Code 36-6-403]
If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.
Allocation of parenting responsibilities

The court will approve agreements by the parties allocating parenting responsibilities, or specifying rules, if it finds that:

  • The agreement is consistent with any limitations on a parent’s decision-making authority
  • The agreement is knowing and voluntary; and
  • The agreement is in the best interest of the child.

The court may consider a parent’s refusal, without Alt Textjust cause, to attend a court-ordered parental educational seminar in making an award of sole decision-making authority to the other parent. The court shall order sole decision-making to one (1) parent when it finds that:

  • A limitation on the other parent’s decision-making authority is mandated
  • Both parents are opposed to mutual decision making; or
  • One (1) parent is opposed to mutual decision making, and such opposition is reasonable in light of the parties’ inability to satisfy the criteria for mutual decision-making authority.
The court will consider the following criteria in allocating decision-making authority
  • The history of participation of each parent in decision making in each of the following areas: physical care, emotional stability, intellectual and moral development, health, education, extracurricular activities, and religion; and whether each parent attended a court ordered parent education seminar;
  • Whether the parents have demonstrated the ability and desire to cooperate with one another in decision making regarding the child in each of the following areas: physical care, emotional stability, intellectual and moral development, health, education, extracurricular activities, and religion; and
  • The parents’ geographic proximity to one another, to the extent that it affects their ability to make timely mutual decisions.

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When determining whether an agreement allocating parenting responsibilities is in the best interest of the child, the court may consider any evidence submitted by a guardian ad litem appointed for the child, if one has been appointed by the court, subject to the Tennessee rules of the supreme court relative to guidelines for guardians ad litem appointed for minor children in divorce proceedings and the Tennessee rules of evidence. [TN Code 36-6-407]

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