The Court of Appeals has upheld a decision out of Clarksville which named the Mother the Primary Residential Parent with 183 days and Father the Alternate Residential Parent with 182 days and a week on week off schedule. In Barry Spencer v. Christina Spencer, the Mother had strenuously opposed the Father getting equal parenting time in the divorce, and after testimony which included allegations that Father had a temper and that Mother had primarily cared for the child, it was found that Father was more supportive of the equal parenting time and desired to coparent with the Mother and that this was in the best interests of the child. The divorce lawyer appealed, and the Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in favor of the joint parenting time.
More specifically, the Mother argued the trial court did not give the appropriate weight to other factors, especially that she had been the primary caretaker. However, the Court of Appeals found that they could not “say the trial court abused its discretion in devising a residential schedule that allows both parties “to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-106(a).” This is important, since the maximum participation possible language is new to the Court and has essentially eliminated what used to be known as “standard visitation” of every other weekend for Father’s. Other important matters of note are that even though evidence of temper (including destroyed property by Father) did not prevent the Father from having equal parenting time since there was no evidence the anger had been directed at the child.
The Court of Appeals is putting more and more emphasis on equal parenting time when it is feasible for the minor children, but also properly defers to the discretion of the trial judges in applying the factors. It will be difficult for even the best divorce lawyers to appeal a finding of equal parenting time by a trial court with the current Court of Appeals.
To read the full opinion, click HERE or cut and paste the following link:
Attorney Morgan Smith represents divorce clients in Nashville and the surrounding areas, including Wilson and Williamson County. To set up a consultation with a divorce lawyer for you contested or uncontested divorce, call our office at (615)620-5848 or use the CONTACT US form on this website and we will be happy to set up a time to speak with you.