I received a Tennessee divorce five years ago. I lived in California at the time of the divorce, and still do. My kids (7 and 14) live in Tennessee with their mother. I am very concerned over their welfare. Their mother refuses to get them proper medical attention. I provide medical/dental insurance and child support. Attempts in the past to get proper medical care via the court hasn't been successful. We agree in court on a course of action - then, the mother doesn't follow through. Repeat court appearances are expensive and accomplish nothing. The mother is not employed and won't hold down a job. She lives off of child support and government funds. I would like to seek custody because I can provide a better, stable living environment and good medical care. What would it take to get custody - and what can I expect in the process?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Child Custody
Your case is very fact specific. First, you must be in the county where the divorce took place; your divorce pre-dated the Permanent Parenting Plan which is the controlling law today; you may file a petition for a permanent parenting plan based on a material change of circumstances. Depending upon the jurisidiction you are in you may be required to attend mediation prior to any court hearing; you will be required to attend parenting classes as will the mother. Your best course of action is to make a telephone appointment with a lawyer who deals extensively in family law, child support, and childrens issues in the county where your divorce was granted.
Re: Child Custody
The basis for a change in custody are facts and changed conditions since the original divorce. The guiding rule is always what is in the child's best interest. Each case stands on its own merits. Consider the stability of the children. Can there be an agreement for change of custody with extended summer visitation?