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Child custody laws in Tennessee

Like most other states, Tennessee has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This provides that the states will respect and enforce the custody laws from other jurisdictions, and the child custody laws of each are similar to one another.

In Tennessee, courts make custody decisions according to what is in the child's best interests. The courts may award the care, custody and control of the child to either one of the parents or jointly. Tennessee law also recognizes grandparents' visitation rights as long as they are in the child's best interests.

If a court decides that a parent has willfully abandoned his or her child for 18 months or longer, that parent's rights regarding the child will be limited. Other noncustodial parents enjoy multiple rights as long as they are in the child's best interests. This includes the right to have telephone calls at least twice weekly with the child, access with the child through the mail and the right to be notified of important information, including the right to be notified within 24 hours of hospitalization. The custodial parent is not allowed to interfere with telephone calls or open and read the mail sent by the noncustodial parent to the child. The noncustodial parent also has the right to know about extracurricular activities and to have full access to the child's educational and medical records.

A child custody dispute is often highly emotional for both parents. A parent who is going through a child custody issue may want to talk to a family law attorney about filing a petition for custody and visitation orders. A lawyer may also help the client with negotiating a parenting plan that is beneficial to the child and to the client.

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