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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > Can a Father Get Custody of Children After a Long Period of Not Being in Their Lives?

Can a Father Get Custody of Children After a Long Period of Not Being in Their Lives?


In a perfect world, former couples who have children together would divide their time with the children approximately equally, and they would keep to a schedule of transferring the children from one parent to the other.  In real life, though, things do not always work out so neatly.  The situation can get especially complicated when one parent moves out of state, and when the travel required to visit the children presents a significant financial hardship.  When the couple had a bad breakup, there are even more obstacles to co-parenting.  If you are a father who has been excluded from your children’s lives either by circumstance or through your ex-wife or ex-girlfriend’s deliberate attempts to keep you away from them, it is not too late to re-establish a relationship with them.  In fact, it is your legal right to have a relationship with your children.  A Tennessee child custody lawyer can help.

Courtney, the Child Whose Father Got Custody of Her Despite Numerous Obstacles

The parties in this case are identified only by their first names in court documents.  Shana and Johnican ended their relationship while Shana was pregnant with their child, and Johnican moved to Alabama.  When Shana gave birth to her daughter Courtney, she listed her new boyfriend on the birth certificate as the child’s father, although both of them knew and acknowledged that he was not her biological father.  Later on, Courtney was removed from the house of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend because of neglect; the court placed her with a foster family.  While Courtney was in foster care, her father Johnican took a DNA paternity test, and when his biological paternity was established, he was named as her legal father, and the mother’s boyfriend’s name was removed from Courtney’s birth certificate.

Courtney moved to Alabama with Johnican, but her mother appealed the decision and attempted to regain custody of Courtney for herself.  She claimed that Johnican was an unfit parent because of a previous criminal conviction.  She also claimed that Johnican could not raise a child because of his lack of a support system.  The court determined that Johnican and his fiancée had other children besides Courtney living with them, and that all the children were well cared for.  Thus, the court rejected the appeal, and Courtney remained in Alabama with her father.

The Legal Issues

Johnican was able to overcome several obstacles in this case.  DNA tests are not always the deciding factor in establishing paternity.  Furthermore, the court must almost always get involved when one parent wants to move the child out of state.  Some aspects of this case would have gone differently if the child had not been in foster care.  If you are a father trying to re-establish a relationship with your child, especially if your child is in another state, you will need the help of a family law attorney.

Let Us Help You Today

Tennessee law protects the rights of fathers to be involved in their children’s lives.  Contact Knoxville child custody attorney Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.


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