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What is required to modify a parenting plan in Tennessee?

Most of the time divorced parents in Tennessee want to provide their child with as much stability as possible, and with that in mind, have entered into a parenting plan that meets the best interests of both the child and the parents. However, life can throw a wrench in even the best-laid plans, leading one parent to seek a modification of the parenting plan. However, there are certain standards that must be met for the court to approve a modification.

If a parent wants to modify a court-approved parenting plan, there must be a material change in circumstance. Such changes may include a parent's failure to follow the court-approved parenting plan, so that the original plan no longer meets the child's best interests. The standard of proof for a modification of a court-approved parenting plan is by a preponderance of the evidence. It is not necessary to show that the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of harm to modify a court-approved parenting plan.

If a parent is seeking a modification of a residential parenting schedule, again there must be a material change of circumstances. This might include a significant alteration in the child's needs due to the child's age, a change in the parent's work schedule, a parent's failure to follow the parenting plan or other circumstances in which a modification of the residential parenting schedule is in the child's best interests. Again, the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, and it is not necessary to show that the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of harm.

As this shows, parenting plans cannot be officially modified on a whim. Careful consideration must be taken to ensure the custody modification is in the child's best interests. Parents with questions about modifying a parenting plan may want to seek legal counsel, as this post does not constitute legal advice.

Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-6-101," Accessed Oct. 14, 2017

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