The term “custody” is still commonly used among Tennessee lawyers and Courts with regards to divorce, paternity, dependency and neglect, and modification actions involving children. Custody, in common form, simply denotes who has physical possession of the child or children and when. “Sole Custody” was commonly used to denote the parent with whom the child or children resided the majority of the time.

Times have changed and so have the terms. However, you will commonly find lawyers and judges still using the term custody as quick reference to parenting time. Now, the terms “alternative residential parent” and “primary residential parent” are more commonly and appropriately used. These terms were created in 2001 when the General Assembly sought to unify and streamline custody disputes between parents by creating a uniform parenting plan while creating specific terminology that sought to avoid confusion and lessen litigation.

Parenting Plans are the primary source to turn to when a dispute arises. I will often ask potential clients, “what does your Parenting Plan say” when a dispute arises in order to advise on the dispute. Divorce proceedings with children in Tennessee often center on the specific terms of the parenting plan. After all, what’s more important than your children and when you spend time with them? The parenting plan will outline how many days each parent spends with the child or children. This is referred to as the “day to day schedule.”

The parenting plan will also delineate specific holiday parenting time. This is referred to as “holiday schedule and other school free days.” In addition to items affecting your days and times that you spend with your child or children, the parenting plan contains specific child support and other financial items that tell the parents who pays what to who and how much.

This and more is often included in a Tennessee Parenting Plan. You can view the current Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Forms here: It is of utmost importance to get the parenting plan correct from the outset of your divorce, paternity, or custody modification case. Rumfelt Legal will fight to ensure that your rights are seen, heard, and upheld when it comes to litigating issues involving Tennessee parenting plans.