What Are a Father’s Rights in Tennessee?

In 1997, Tennessee lawfully determined that a parent’s gender should not affect whether they receive primary custody of their children. It’s stated in the Tennessee Code Annotated 36-6-412 that “It is the legislative intent that the gender of the party seeking to be the primary residential parent shall not give rise to a presumption of parental fitness or cause a presumption in favor of or against such party.”

Rights of Unmarried Fathers

When a child is born to unmarried parents, the paternity of the child is not automatically assumed. For the father to establish paternity, he and the mother must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital. Until this form is signed, the alleged father has no claim or rights to the child.

Rights to Child Custody & Visitation

In the state of Tennessee, judges rule in favor the child’s best interests. This means the judge evaluates the parents on equal grounds to determine custody and visitation rights, looking at each parent’s:

  1. ability to mentally care for the child;
  2. ability to physically care for the child;
  3. willingness to foster the relationship between the child and the other parent;
  4. financial stability;
  5. history (or lack thereof) of abuse; and/or
  6. other relevant factors.

If there is evidence that the father abandoned the child for 18 months or more, his involvement with the child (such as custody and visitation) will be extremely limited. However, the court will still do what it can to ensure the child is able to maintain a relationship with the father.

Helping Protect Your Fatherly Rights

Our father’s rights attorneys at Patton | Pittman will do everything we can to help you fight for your parental rights as a father. If you are seeking custody of your child or your former partner is not honoring a court-ordered custody arrangement, we can help.

For a complimentary consultation, contact our firm online or call us at (931) 361-4477.
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