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Staying connected in Tennessee when you don't have custody

If you're not the residential parent -- the parent with primary physical custody in Tennessee -- you may be faced with a difficult problem.

How do you stay connected to your child when you don't live with him or her on a regular basis anymore?

Unlike many other states, Tennessee's laws specifically grants you certain rights that should help with that process:

-- You can speak to your child by phone at minimum of twice each week, for a reasonable amount of time. The child's other parent is required to give you a phone number where the child can be reached.

-- You can send your child regular mail at any time. Your child's other parent is not allowed to withhold the mail or open it before giving it to your child unless the court has said otherwise.

-- You have the right to expect your child's other parent to keep any negative or hurtful comments about you to himself or herself. The other parent also cannot talk negatively about your close family members in front of the children either.

-- You can expect your child's other parent to provide notice that your child has some important extracurricular event happening, like a band concert, a soccer game or an academic award dinner. The notice has to be given 48 hours in advance or longer so that you can attempt to be there if you want.

-- You have the right to participate in your child's school activities to the same extent any other parent is allowed. This may be more important with younger children as things like room parties for the holidays roll around or if you want to volunteer for hall duty or as a recess monitor.

Tennessee also has a few other rights that are granted to parents that encourage the parent without residential custody to stay connected and involved. That includes the right to your child's school records and medical records.

If you're having trouble asserting your rights or want to seek physical custody of your child, talk to an attorney today.

Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Child Custody Laws," accessed May 26, 2017

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