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Father’s Rights in Tennessee

Fathers have the same right to participate in the lives of their children as mothers regardless of whether or not the parties were married when their child was born. Many people assume that courts will automatically award sole custody of a child to the mother in a custody dispute, but that simply is not the case. In any decision related to children, courts will consider the best interest of the child or children when making decisions. But fathers should still be aware of their rights and how to defend them; this can be different depending on whether you are a married at the time your child is born.

Married Fathers

If you are thinking about divorce, there are basic things you will need to know. First is that a custody and visitation schedule will be set up for you and your children as part of the divorce process. This schedule can be decided by the court or agreed on by the divorcing parents. Second, you and your spouse have equal right to full participation in your child’s life. Tennessee law does not allow a presumption for custody based on gender. Third, when your divorce is complete one parent will be named the Primary Residential Parent of the child based on the child’s best interests. The court will look to factors such as each parent’s ability to care for the child, of each parent to foster a healthy relationship with the other parent and the child.

The decisions that are made during divorce can have a massive impact on your relationship with your children. Don’t go through the divorce process alone and don’t simply take any visitation schedule you are offered because you believe courts will automatically favor the mother of a child. Our attorneys will help you assert and defend your right to a full and equal relationship with your child.

Unmarried Fathers

Approximately 41% of children are born to unmarried parents. Being an unmarried father presents a specific and difficult challenge to many men. Under Tennessee law, when a child is born to unmarried parents’ custody is automatically with the child’s mother unless and until a court orders otherwise. This means that if you were not married to your child’s mother when your child was born, you will have to request assistance from the court to assert your parental rights.

The first step is to establish that you are the child’s biological father. This can happen in several ways. Often, this is established when a father is included on a child’s birth certificate. If this wasn’t done, you can request an order for a DNA test from the court. Once you have been legally established as a child’s father, you can and should request visitation time with your child. If you wish to be the child’s primary caregiver, you and your attorney can discuss strategies and options to determine if this would be in your child’s best interest.

Many unmarried fathers have been led to believe they are not entitled to a relationship with their child or children. Some feel like they are the mercy of their child’s other parent and that they shouldn’t fight for their children because no one will listen or care about their desire to be a parent. Our attorneys have had deeply personal experiences helping friends, family members, and clients assert and defend their parental rights. Our office is passionate about advocating for fathers and will guide you through every step of securing your relationship with your child.

Parental Alienation

Too often Fathers report feeling like they have been shut out of their children’s lives. Many fathers seek legal help because they have not seen their child in months or have not been allowed to contact them. They don’t know what their responsibilities are or how they should proceed with requesting visitation. In many cases, this problem could be solved by asking the court to set a specific schedule for both parties to follow.

In some cases, a father’s former partner or spouse has gone out of their way to eliminate a father’s connection to a child even when a schedule has been established by the court. People take these actions because of hurt, anger, or resentment toward their child’s other parent. Occasionally, the parties just don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly each parent’s rights are when it comes to their children. Whatever the situation, you are entitled to an active role in your child’s life. Children deserve to have a relationship with both parents and courts will often prioritize this goal in cases where one parent has refused another parent access to children.

If you are considering divorce, are wondering what your rights are as an unmarried father, or are being denied access to your children, our office is ready to assist you. Once you have decided to take the step to protect yourself and your child call us at 615-475-7041 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

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