Parenting Plans Following Divorce in Tennessee

A parenting plan is a way for divorcing parents to plan for the parenting of their children following the divorce. In Tennessee, divorcing parents are required to draft and submit parenting plans and have them approved before a divorce can be granted.

The Tennessee Parenting Plan law, which came into effect on January 1, 2001, requires members of divorcing families to work together to determine how to best meet the needs of the new family structure. The parenting plan seeks to move away from the concepts of “custody” and “visitation” and, instead, stresses the notion of “parenting responsibilities.”

Creating a parenting plan can be challenging for parents in Tennessee. Proposed permanent parenting plans must be filed and served at least 45 days before the trial date. Failure to file a plan can lead to another parent’s plan being approved by default. Parenting Plans also apply to custody cases of children born out of wedlock.

If you need assistance in drafting a thorough and effective parenting plan, attorney Shannon A. Jones can help. Attorney Jones has over two decades of experience helping Memphis area families with divorce, custody, parenting plans, and other family law matters. Call (901) 562-3605 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Changing a Permanent Parenting Plan

Parenting plans are designed to give the divorcing parents an agreed-upon plan to parent successfully after the divorce so the children are best cared for. However, in some cases, the arrangements specified in the Plan do not work out and the parents require modifications. Parents in Tennessee need to know the standards for changing the parenting schedule in a parenting plan and changing the custody designation entirely.

A court order is needed to make a change to the residential parenting schedule in a permanent parenting plan. To modify the parenting schedule outlined in a permanent parenting plan, a parent must show that there is “a material change in circumstances.” The law says that the parent does not need to show that the change in circumstances results in a “substantial risk of harm to the child.” Examples of changes in circumstances that would be grounds for changing the residential parenting schedule include:

  • Changes in the child’s needs over time, including changes related to the child’s age
  • Changes to a parent’s work schedule or standard of living that impacts their parenting abilities
  • A parent is not following the Parenting Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is required to fill out a Parenting Plan?

The parents or their lawyers fill out the parenting plan. If the parents cannot agree to the terms of parenting plan, each parent files their own plan with the court, and it will typically go into mediation to resolve the differences.

Where do I get a Parenting Plan?

By law, each court in the state of Tennessee must have a parenting plan.

When do I file my Parenting Plan?

Your local court will determine the specifics of when to file your parenting plan. In general, you will have filed your proposed temporary plan on time if you file your Plan with the divorce Complaint, Petition, Response, or Answer.

Proposed permanent parenting plans have to be filed and served at least 45 days prior to the trial date. If you do not file a parenting plan, your spouse’s plan may be approved by default.

Where do I file my Parenting Plan?

You may file with the Clerk of the Court. The Clerk will then submit the plan into the case file for the Judge to review.

What if my spouse (or former spouse) and I don’t agree on parts of our parenting plans?

You may use a mediator to help you reach a compromise with your spouse. If mediation does not solve the problem, the Court will hold a hearing to determine and order a parenting plan for you that is in the best interests of your child or children.

If my spouse filed a parenting plan, do I file my own plan?

If you and your spouse are in agreement on the parenting plan submitted, then you do not need to file a Plan as well. If you do not agree on some parts of the plan submitted by your spouse, then you should file your own. In regard to a temporary parenting plan, the law requires that each party must submit a proposed temporary parenting plan, a verified statement of income, and a verified statement that the plan is in the best interest of the child or children.

As for the permanent parenting plan, the law requires that if the parents have not come to an agreement on a permanent parenting plan on or before 45 days before the date set for trial, each party must file and serve a proposed permanent parenting plan, even though the parties may continue to negotiate. Failure to comply by one parent may result in the court’s adoption of the plan filed by the other parent if the court finds such a plan to be in the best interests of the child or children.

Contact a Memphis Family Law Attorney

Do you need assistance with a family law matter in the greater Memphis area? If so, make sure that you work with an experienced and skilled family law lawyer so that you can have the best chance at achieving the most favorable outcome to your case. If you are going through a divorce and have children, a Tennessee divorce attorney can file a Parenting Plan for you and answer any questions you may have about the plan.

Attorney Shannon A. Jones has over 20 years of experience handling a wide variety of family law cases, including parenting plans. He has the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to help you protect your children and to move forward to a better, brighter future. Reach us by phone at (901) 562-3605 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation today.