Technically, in Tennessee we no longer use the words custody or visitation. A few years back, the statutes were changed and now – you will see the words Primary Residential Parent and Parenting Time replacing those words.
However, the words are interchangeable.
The Primary Residential Parent is the parent with whom the children live the majority of the time. Parenting Time is the time either parent spends with the child.
Permanent Parenting Plans are the parenting schedules attorneys prepare for their clients setting out parenting time, holiday visitation, child support and numerous other agreements that pertain to the children.
Custody can be the most expensive aspect of a divorce. Kids are often caught in the middle of the divorce. For this reason, every divorcing parent in Tennessee is required to attend a parenting class before their divorce is finalized. There are many such classes during the day and evenings in Nashville, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown, Hartsville, Lafayette, Carthage and Gordonsville. There is no requirement that the parents attend together and the classes last only a few hours but in those few hours, teach parents how to help the children through this difficult process.
I have many clients who don’t believe they need to fill out a detailed Parenting Plan. They are sure they will get along in the future and don’t need to determine exactly who gets parenting time from when to when.
My advice to my clients is to be as specific as possible in these plans now. Then, if you choose, put the Parenting Plan that you both signed off on, in a drawer and never look at it. So long as you and your spouse are in agreement do as you wish when it comes to parenting your children.
However, when there is a disagreement as to whose holiday it is, or whether your new husband can pick up the kids from school, you can pull out the Parenting Plan and abide by it.
You live and die by the terms of the agreements you sign. Be very careful before signing any Parenting Plan. These plans become Court Orders once the Judge finalizes your divorce.
If you read the plan and get an awful feeling, do not sign it! Get advice from a local attorney who can tell you whether what you are agreeing to is fair.