After making an award of custody, the court shall, upon request of the non-custodial parent, grant such rights of visitation as will enable the child and the non-custodial parent to maintain a parent-child relationship unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation is likely to endanger the child's physical or emotional health. In granting visitation, the court shall designate in which parent's home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations and other special occasions. If the court finds that the non-custodial parent has physically or emotionally abused the child, the court may require that visitation be supervised or prohibited until such abuse has ceased or until there is no reasonable likelihood that such abuse will recur. The court may not order the Department of Children's Services to provide supervision of visitation pursuant to this section except in cases where the department is the petitioner or intervening petitioner in a case in which the custody or guardianship of a child is at issue.
Parent and Child Relationship
According to Tennessee child visitation laws, after making a decision regarding primary custody of a child, the court is to take up the issue of visitation. The goal of the court in developing a visitation order is to ensure that the non-custodial parent is able to maintain and develop an appropriate parent and child relationship.
Achieving this objective includes establishing a set visitation schedule that becomes the order of the court. A typical schedule includes specific days during the month when a child is at the home of the non-custodial parent. Additionally, the order establishes when visitation occurs on holidays, birthdays and for an extended period of time during the summer holiday.
Upon a finding that the non-custodial parent emotionally or physically abused the child, the court places restrictions on visitation. The court is vested with the power to prohibit visitation all together. In the alternative, the court orders supervised visitation. Typically another family member acceptable to both parents is selected to provide supervision.
A court usually orders a parent with a history of perpetrating abuse of any type against the child to participate in counseling and educational programming. Only through a successful completion of these types of programs are the restrictions placed on visitation eased.
The sexual orientation of the non-custodial parent plays no role in a court's decisions regarding visitation. The one caveat exists if there is a demonstration that a parent's sexual orientation adversely affects the child. The court does have the ability to restrict other individuals from being present during a visitation, including the significant other of the non-custodial parent if his presence is deemed harmful to the child. The same rule would apply to a significant other of a heterosexual non-custodial parent.
Tennessee child visitation law maintains a unique provision regarding suitable locations for visitation. Under Tennessee law, the non-custodial parent cannot take a child to a nudist colony during visitation without the express prior permission of the custodial parent. If the non-custodial parent takes a child to a nudist colony without permission, the parent can be found in criminal contempt of court and sentenced to jail.