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Patrick L. Looper Patrick L. Looper
  • Serving All of Tennessee

Courts Base Child Custody Decisions on What Parents Do, Not on What They Promise


One of the most painful parts co-parenting is when your children come back from your ex’s house and spout the outsized, probably empty promises they heard.  Dad says he’s getting us a puppy next weekend.  Dad says we’re going to Disney World for Christmas.  Dad says he will buy me a car when I turn sixteen.  It is even more painful when these promises are contingent on the children choosing your ex as their primary residential parent, or worse, moving out of town with your ex.  Take comfort, though, that the court’s see a parent’s empty promises for what they are.  The same goes for negative opinions your ex-spouse expresses about the life your children lead with you as their primary residential parent; in fact, badmouthing your ex can only damage your credibility before the court and can cause you to be held in contempt.  All parents are entitled to their opinions, but courts base their decisions on the children’s best interests, not on what your ex thinks about your job or eating habits.  If you and your ex-spouse disagree about your parenting plan, contact a Tennessee child custody lawyer.

Details of the Summers v. Layne Case

Albert Summers and Nakisha Layne had a son together in 2007; they were not married, and the court documents do not specify when their relationship ended or how they shared parenting responsibilities for the child’s first years.  In 2011, since Nakisha was planning to move from Pulaski, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky with her fiancé, Albert petitioned the court for a parenting plan.  Both Albert and Nakisha affirmed that Albert was the child’s biological father, although it is not clear from the court documents whether he had established legal paternity prior to that court petition.  Before issuing a court order specifying the parenting plan, the court heard testimony from Albert, Nakisha, and four other witnesses.

Two pieces of testimony Nakisha gave lessened her credibility in the court’s estimation.  First, she stated that she wanted to move the child to Louisville because Giles County offered no opportunities for quality education or extracurricular activities.  The court found this statement to be false, since the child participated in soccer and tee-ball teams, some of which Albert coached.  Second, Lakisha freely disclosed to the court that she had failed to report her income from her second job, namely working out of her home as a hairstylist, on her income tax returns, and she seemed unrepentant about this fact.  In the permanent parenting plan, finalized in 2015, the court designated Albert as the primary residential parent and granted Lakisha, who had moved to Kentucky, one weekend of parenting time every month, except December, when she would spend part of the Christmas holidays with the child.

Let Us Help You Today

You are providing a stable, loving environment for your child; do not let your ex-spouse’s pie-in-the-sky plans get in your way; the court will know the truth.  Contact Knoxville child custody attorney Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.

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