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How long until I can win sole custody? Do I have at chance at winning sole custody? How long could this case last?

Nashville, TN |

My child was born late last year. I hired a law firm to help aide me in establishing paternity and if the child was mine, working from there. The firm did nothing for me, it's been almost 9 months since our first court appearance and due to poor counsel I haven't had any visitation with my almost year-old child. I'm enrolling into parenting classes and parenting workshops and trying to better my life as best I can to prove I'm the better parent. Given the amount of time that has lapsed, even with evidence that my child's mother spends more time partying, on vacation and not being a parent, how long can I expect this to drag out until I can get sole custody of my child? I'm desperate to move to another state and start a newer and better life for us but can't do that until I'm sole parent.

Attorney Answers 3


I agree with the first attorney that you should first talk to your current attorney.

You've not given any facts but you should know that judges in Tennessee strongly prefer to keep BOTH parents in the child's life and absent some extraordinary facts NEITHER parent will get SOLE custody. Usually the judge will make one parent the primary residential parent and give the other parent co-parenting time (visitation).

The answering of this question does NOT establish an attorney\client relationship. If you wish to hire me call me and we will talk about it, but as of now, I am NOT your attorney. My answers are intended for educational purposes only.

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You need someone to sit down with and have a reality check. You may never get sole custody. Custody isn't awarded to the best parent, it's awarded to a parent when one parent cannot be given the responsibility of making those life decisions required of a parent.

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I wonder whether you have had this discussion with your lawyer and what your lawyer has said about it. In my experience when clients say that their lawyers have done nothing in actuality the lawyer has made efforts that have not produced results to the client's satisfaction. If that is true here, then the important questions are: precisely what has the lawyer done? why were the unsatisfactory results produced? should the lawyer have done something else and/or more? is the lawyer in over his/her head? A calm and diplomatic discussion raising those questions should produce honest answers, and, if you are still not satisfied, consult another lawyer with experience in custody proceedings.

These comments do not constitute legal advice. They are general comments on the circumstances presented, and may not be applicable to your situation. For legal advice on which you may rely consult your own lawyer.

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I've since fired that firm and replaced them. I went through two people at the old firm, one of which was the owner. They told me time and time again that the best course of action was to sit still, there's nothing going on, no available court dates, nothing. All you can do is sit and wait. So I did. Upon firing that firm and getting hold of my case file I saw that they had kept all original documents and merely let me have copies. They attempted to omit any evidence that would prove I was demanding they get me court dates, I was demanding answers to questions like "where is my child? where is my child living?" And again, I was told to sit still and it would basically all work itself out. I saw that the old law firm, in an attempt to wash their hands of any negligence to my case, had thrown me under the bus, claiming I refused to accept the fact I would never get equal parenting time with my child and they went so far as to recommend to a mediator that I not get equal parenting time because I haven't requested any time with my child. I've got endless emails that dispute that. They just wanted my money and screwed me over. That old firm set me up to fail and helped my son' mother's attorney railroad me during mediation. Upon firing them they tacked on silly extra fees just to squeeze a few extra dollars out of me. I've replaced that firm with a new one. Here's how things have gone so far with the new firm: not even 5 minutes after hiring them, as I was telling them all that's happened in my case, they picked up the phone and just like that, I had a court date set. Because of the gross negligence of the old firm I probably owe a year's pay in retroactive child support. The new firm has been working round the clock I'm sure to undo the damage the other idiots had done to my case. Let me just say that after telling the new firm all of this, they were almost speechless at how all of this has been handled. It took nearly a week to get the old law firm to officially sign themselves off my case, they took that long so they could try to hide the evidence of their wrongdoing as well as just run up my legal fees (the more time the new firm had to spend fighting with the old lawyers, the more money it would cost me). I'm just afraid that it's too late now. So much time has lapsed between the first court date and now. I've had people come forward willing to testify that my child is being placed in dangerous situations and the old firm did nothing to help us (my child and I). I'm afraid of how badly that will make me look in court. After all, the judge will operate with the assumption that my attorneys were doing as their client instructed, so this is ultimately my fault and I'll be treated like some deadbeat dad who doesn't want his child. I'm just your average person doing what I thought my lawyers felt was in the best interests of my child and I. And now... I just hope and pray that all of this can be fixed. I really do. Thanks for your reply, Arnold.

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