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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

Going to court for child custody modifications

Tennessee parents who have gone through a divorce and who have a child custody order might need to get a modification at some point. Before going to court about changing a custody agreement, parents might want to first try working out an arrangement themselves and turning to a mediator if this is unsuccessful. However, there are circumstances in which it may be necessary for a court to intervene.

A parent might believe the child is in danger in the other parent's home. A court will look at how immediate the danger is, the child's own feelings about remaining in the home and whether domestic violence is an issue.

Another reason a formal custody modification may be necessary is if one parent moves far away. The court will take into account the parent's reason for moving, how the move affects the visitation schedule, and what impact on the child's life a custody modification will have. One parent may also want to alter the agreement if the other parent is not upholding their end of it. A court would consider the reason for the parent's lack of cooperation with the visitation schedule and what kind of communication the parents have had on the issue.

If the custodial parent dies, physical custody must be altered as well. However, this does not automatically mean the noncustodial parent will have custody. Another family member may get custody instead.

In general, judges will expect parents to try to work out their differences outside of the courtroom. Parents who have a contentious relationship might want to communicate only through their respective attorneys, and in this way, they might still be able to find solutions out of court. During the divorce, parents might also want to consider making a plan for how they will handle disputes such as these and include that in their parenting agreement.

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