Child Custody Lawyers Maryville TN

Trusted Child Custody Attorneys in Maryville

Helping East Tennessee clients protect their children’s best interests

One of the most difficult aspects of any divorce is determining child custody. For most folks, it’s the hardest part of getting a divorce. It leads to a lot of heartbreak, and often to a lot of anger. Those are natural responses, but it’s important to remember that under the law, the only thing that matters is what’s in the best interest of your children.

As child custody attorneys, the team at Shepherd & Long, P.C. finds solutions that address the needs of the children, while allowing both parents to continue to maintain close ties and participate in the decision-making process. We have four decades of collective experience as child custody lawyers in Maryville, and have guided many East Tennessee families through the sensitive issues pertaining to children and divorce. You can trust us to help you while we look out for your kids.

Testimonials

Caleb Gandy
"Kevin responded to my urgent email even while he was on Christmas leave. He got me full legal and physical custody of my kids! He’s very professional and a killer lawyer! I recommend him to everyone I know! Huge props to Erica his legal assistant too! They are all fantastic!"

Caleb Gandy

Megan Sparkes
"I Kevin and his team are very driven, compassionate, and are willing to do what it takes to win even when things in your case aren't cut-and-dry. Both Kevin and Maxey are very knowledgeable of family law and highly responsive. It's really hard to find a lawyer who actually has a heart for your situation and will work with you on costs, but they do. Kevin and his team are absolutely phenomenal and I cannot recommend them enough. I plan to re-hire if I should ever need legal services in the future."

Megan Sparkes

Jorga Prater
"We have hired Maxey to represent use for a very difficult family matter that has caused use quite a lot of emotional stress. The firm is so helpful; very professional, and also answer questions in ways we understand them. We have also met with Kevin and he is as kind as Maxey is and they really seem to know there stuff . They genuinely care about use and that’s means a lot."

Jorga Prater

Aaron Lolley
"My wife and I needed a lawyer who would represent our case fairly and honestly, while keeping her best interest at heart. Kevin was in communication with us when necessary, Ericka responded promptly to emails or calls with information or updates, and we always knew what to expect going into a situation. If you need someone to represent you or a loved one, he is the one to call. Thank you Shepherd & Long."

Aaron Lolley

Stacy Carter
"I can’t say enough good things! Kevin and his team are phenomenal. He was reassuring and comforting during the most difficult time in my life. He worked diligently for the outcome that I was hoping for. Erica is great and was always on top of everything that was going on. I will never go anywhere else for my legal needs."

Stacy Carter

The types of child custody in Tennessee

When it comes to child custody, there are four terms you need to know:

  1. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions about education, religious upbringing, and medical care and treatment.
  2. Physical custody determines the child’s primary residence.
  3. Sole/full custody means one parent has both legal and physical custody of the child.
  4. Joint custody means both parents share in living arrangements and the decision-making process.

Sometimes, a court may grant one parent sole legal custody of a child, but joint physical custody. This means both parents get equal parenting time, but only one parent is charged with making decisions about how the child is raised.

Understand that even if one parent is granted sole custody of the child, that does not mean the other parent is not entitled to parenting time (AKA, visitation). A good example of this is when one parent has to move out of state for a job. The in-state parent may be granted full custody, and the out-of-state parent may get a few weeks of visitation, usually during the summer or the holidays.

A judge may also award sole custody to Parent A if there are concerns about the child’s safety with Parent B. Even under these circumstances, however, Parent B may be entitled to visitation, albeit supervised visitation.

Child Custody2

How do courts in Tennessee make decisions about child custody?

While parents have their own wishes regarding the custody of their children, the Tennessee courts make their decisions based solely on the best interest of the children. As lawyers with extensive experience in divorce mediation, we often help parents negotiate their own child custody terms as part of their parenting plans, so that the judge doesn’t have to get involved.

When parents cannot reach agreement, however, judges consider certain factors in making their decision. Those factors include:

  • Existing ties between the children and parents
  • Past performance of parental duties
  • The mental and physical history of each parent
  • Issues pertaining to physical and/or mental abuse within the household
  • Preferences of children aged 12 or older
  • The desire of each parent to help ensure a continued close relationship between the children and the other parent

What is a parenting plan?

The parenting plan is a tool required by the Tennessee Courts to specify the details of custody and support issues after the divorce. Completion of the parenting plan requires a great deal of thought, and Maryville child custody lawyers can provide valuable assistance in formulating a workable plan for the entire family.

The parenting plan covers every imaginable issue pertaining to the children, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Residential time with each parent, including a daily schedule
  • Holiday schedule
  • Seasonal vacations
  • Transportation arrangements
  • Joint and individual decision-making

Since the form also includes details pertaining to financial needs, you need a child support lawyer who can help ensure your parenting plan includes financial provisions acceptable to the court.

Can I modify my child custody order?

Yes; child custody orders can be modified in Tennessee if there has been a material change in circumstances, and if the modification of the order will be in the best interests of the child. The most common examples include:

  • One parent moving out of state, or at least 50 miles away
  • One parent getting a new job with new hours that aren’t conducive to the current order
  • One parent suffering a medical condition that leave him or her unable to care for the child
  • One parent committing and act of domestic violence or abuse
  • The child’s needs changing in a significant way

Please note that if you or your child is at risk of being abused, you can request an emergency hearing for a restraining order and temporary custody.

My ex stopped paying child support; can I deny him/her visitation?

No, you cannot – and you could go to jail if you do. Child support and child custody are not dependent upon each other. If your ex stops paying support, there are legal actions we can take on your behalf to enforce that order. If, however, you attempt to alienate your child from your ex, or prevent your ex from seeing your child, you could be held in contempt of court. Judges don’t like it when parents use their children as pawns, so it won’t go well with you if you violate the order.

Can grandparents seek visitation in Tennessee?

Yes, they can. Under Tennessee law, a grandparent can seek visitation or even custody of their grandchildren, provided the circumstances are right.

My child’s other parent and I were never married; how do I seek custody?

Tennessee law doesn’t really distinguish between married and unmarried parents. In fact, as long as your name is on the birth certificate, then you should have no problem seeking custody of your child. If your name isn’t on the birth certificate, however, and your ex is trying to keep you from seeing your child, you will need to have a paternity test done. This will prove that the child is yours, and your right to parenting time will be protected under the law.

Seek support from an experienced Maryville child custody lawyer

Although life necessarily changes for children after divorce, child custody lawyers in Maryville can help families maintain consistent family relationships by finding creative solutions to unique issues while developing effective parenting plans acceptable to the Tennessee courts. For more information, or to schedule a consultation with a Maryville child custody attorney at Shepherd & Long, P.C., call 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form.