Posted by: koherston | October 22, 2012

Equal Parenting Time Consistent With Tennessee “Maximum Participation” Statute: Van Erps v. Jackson

Facts: Child was born to Mother and Father in 2007. Mother and Father lived together with Child until their separation in 2011. The trial court subsequently established Father’s paternity, named Father the primary residential parent, and ordered an equal, 50/50 parenting schedule. Mother appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

The Court summarizes the parties’ positions as follows:

Father testified that after he moved out of Mother’s home she prevented him from seeing his child, required that he take a parenting class and have a psychological examination. He testified that he would not be allowed to see his child often enough if Mother was designated primary residential parent but he would not limit Mother’s time with the child if he was designated primary residential parent. Mother testified that Father was abusive to the child, that he had unsecured loaded weapons in his house, and that he encouraged the child to be abusive to animals. She testified that Father had threatened her and that she did not have confidence in his parenting skills.

After reviewing the testimony of the twelve witnesses who testified at trial, the Court discerned no error, writing:

The court’s statement that the child’s best interest would be served by a 50/50 residential parenting schedule is consistent with the language of Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-106(a) that custody and visitation decisions are to be made “on the basis of the best interest of the child” and that the court “shall order a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child.”

The trial court was affirmed.

K.O.’s Comment: The Court’s statement that a 50/50 parenting time arrangement is “consistent with” the “maximum participation” provision in § 36-6-106(a) should be cited by lawyers advocating for such a parenting schedule.

Van Erps v. Jackson (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, September 25, 2012).

Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Matrimonial, Divorce and Family Law Attorney.


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