If no court order for custody has been granted and the parents are unmarried who has the custody of a child in Tennessee?

I am currently trying to find a similar answer, so far, in my experience (in which one parent is in Tennessee and one is NOT in Tennessee), I was told NO ONE has custody. That you have to go to court to get it established.That both parents have equal claim to the child. Further more, I was told that the child, whom is living outside of Tennessee can be taken by the parent living in Tennessee and nothing can be done. This is after paternity has been established. Scary thought. I have tried to get information from many sources, especially about the jurisdiction and enforcement act and most agencies are close mouthed and pass the buck. My child is 8 months old and I have no idea what my rights are. If you find out anything let me know :)