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Legal Information: Tennessee

Custody

Updated: 
May 9, 2019

How can I change a custody order once it's in place?

If you are trying to change (modify) the part of the court’s order that deals with custody, you have to prove that there has been a substantial (material) change in circumstances since the order was issued. The law lays out the following examples as material changes of circumstances but there can be others as well:

If you are trying to change (modify) the part of the court’s order that deals with residential parenting schedule, you have to prove that there has been a substantial (material) change in circumstances that affects the child’s best interest since the order was issued. The law lays out the following examples as material changes of circumstances but there can be others as well:

  • significant changes in the needs of the child over time, which may include changes relating to age;
  • significant changes in the parent’s living or working condition that significantly affect parenting;
  • failure to follow the parenting plan; or
  • other circumstances making a change in the residential parenting time in the best interest of the child.3

Note: To change to the custody order or residential parenting schedule, you do not have to prove that there is substantial risk of harm to the child in order to have the order changed, although if there is such a risk, this could be a reason to ask for the order to be changed.4

1 TN ST § 36-6-101(a)(2)(B)(i)
2 TN ST § 36-6-101(a)(2)(A)(v)
3 TN ST § 36-6-101(a)(2)(C)
4 TN ST § 36-6-101(a)(2)(B)(i); (a)(2)(C)