In 1997, the Tennessee Legislature determined that the gender of a parent should neither help nor hinder that parent in seeking primary custody of his or her children. Tennessee Code Annotated 36-6-412 states:
It is the legislative intent that the gender of the party seeking to be the primary residential parent shall not give rise to a presumption of parental fitness or cause a presumption in favor of or against such party.
While Tennessee fathers continue to make substantial strides in gaining child custody or extended visitation rights, the courts in Tennessee still have a lot of work to do. The statistics show that more mothers than fathers are still being named as primary residential parents. However, there are many reasons for this discrepancy. Fathers who hope to get primary residential custody of their children should not be deterred by statistics—especially if they actively participated in caring for their children during their marriage. The revised statutory language requires that Courts maximize the participation of both parents in the life of a child based on the best interest factors or any other factors the Court deems relevant.
Our Nashville office is dedicated to advocating on behalf of fathers. Attorney Amanda Raye Thornton has made it her mission to go beyond merely reciting the gender equality mandated by law since 1997. She fights to see that our Tennessee courts truly recognize the equal rights of fathers to parent and raise their children.
If you are a father considering a divorce or custody petition and seeking to be named primary residential parent, the best way to achieve your goals is to educate yourself on the relevant Tennessee laws, including the factors that a judge must consider in making custody decisions:
- each parent’s ability to instruct, inspire, and encourage the child;
- the relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent;
- the willingness of each parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- the ability of each parent to provide for the child;
- the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver in the past;
- the emotional needs and developmental level of the child;
- the emotional fitness of each parent;
- any evidence of abuse by a parent;
- the reasonable preference of the child (if the child is 12 years of age or older);
- and any other factors considered relevant by the court.
The next step is to use all the resources available to you online (some of which are listed below), and to hire an attorney who understands the complex battles that fathers sometimes face in the Tennessee court system.
If you are a father seeking custody of your minor children, whether through divorce or a custody petition, you may find it helpful to visit the following sites:
Whether you are just beginning to consider a divorce or are already in the midst of a custody battle, please contact us today to discuss the best way to protect your parental rights.