The Court of Appeals has affirmed a ruling finding there is no material change of circumstances in a case where the parties had joint parenting time and a child wished to move in with the other parent on a primary basis.
JOSHUA TIMOTHY CANADA v. TONYA MARIE CANADA out of Jackson, Tennessee, involved a post-divorce modification of a parenting plan. The children and Father alleged they were being left alone at home unsupervised, that Mother had daughter had an incident which resulted in the child staying with Father for an extended period of time, that there had been prior incidents of the daughter being left alone and hiding in her closet when someone parked in the driveway, and several incidents of the Mother being late to pick the children up from school. The trial court found that there was not a material change of circumstances, but had there been a material change, it is in the best interests of the minor children to designate the Father as the PRP. The Court of Appeals affirmed this ruling, demonstrating just how important the initial parenting designation is in a divorce proceeding. Since the Father was the ARP with Joint Parenting Time, the high standard material change for designation was necessary. You cannot just agree to give your spouse primary residential parent in your divorce and then expect to be able to easily challenge them for custody later in a post-divorce modification. If you have any inkling of wanting to be designated primary residential parent in the near future, you will need to make sure you divorce lawyer is aware of this so they can apply as much pressure as possible on this issue in the divorce. It is rare where it is worth fighting about who checks the PRP box and is designated on the first page as the primary parent, but if you have concerns about your spouse being able to handle the stress and pressure of single parenting it is worth fighting over if you are able to afford the costs of the litigation under present Tennessee law.
You can read the full opinion here: https://www.tba.org/sites/default/files/canadaj_090415.pdf
Concerned about your parenting arrangement in your divorce? Call Nashville Divorce Lawyer Morgan Smith at (615)620-5848. We have experience in contested divorces with custody disputes and understand the future impact your divorce will have on your relationship with your children.