What Every Divorcing Parent Should Know

February 7, 2012
By Mary Frances Parker on February 7, 2012 10:31 PM |

Oftentimes, clients get caught in a trap of tit-for-tat. The number one rule for divorce game playing is to not get sucked in. Do not let your spouse encourage you to engage in behavior that you would otherwise avoid. Do not worry about who is right. Worry about what is right. Regardless of how your spouse acts during the divorce, always do the right thing. Always take the high road. Never act in a way that would embarrass you if it were to be made public. You will never regret being the bigger person. parent:baby hands.jpg

Do not be too sensitive or thin-skinned. Clients are often upset by things that are in pleadings or things that the other party requests. These concerns are usually unwarranted. Before getting angry or upset about something that is in court documents, talk with your attorney to find out if it's standard language or if it's normal practice in family law.

Regardless of how you feel about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, remember that he or she is the parent of your child. Even if you believe he or she is a bad person, also remember that it never benefits your child to have feuding parents. Never talk bad about the other parent in front of your child. Never argue in front of your child. Never discuss the case in front of your child.

Both parents have an absolute right to children's school records (report cards, attendance records, teachers' names, schedules and test scores. Both parents have an absolute right to participate in children's extracurricular activities and school events. Both parents have an absolute right to children's medical records.

One factor courts consider, when determining who will be the primary residential parent, is which person is most likely to encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child or children. Never, never, never interfere with your child's relationship with the other parent. Always encourage your child to have regular contact with the other parent, whether it's through visitation or through phone calls.

Child support in Tennessee is affected by several things: the number of days each parent spends with the child, the number of children, the respective incomes of the parents, which parent carries health insurance for the children, and which parent covers daycare expenses for the children. It can also be affected when one parent has a child support obligation for another child.

Every parent has a right to at least two phone conversations per week with their children, without the other parent disturbing those talks.

Every parent also has a right to at least 48 hours' notice of all extra-curricular activities.

If either parent leaves the state for more than 2 days with the children for vacation, the other parent has a right to notice and an itinerary, including emergency phone numbers.

Fathers should know that, while they have historically been granted parenting time during every other weekend, courts are increasingly giving fathers equal parenting time. There is no longer any gender preference for who will be the primary residential parent, and the Tennessee legislature recently began requiring that each parent receive maximum participation with their children, so far as it is in the best interests of the children.