How is Child Custody Determined in Tennessee?

Divorce is never easy, but when kids are involved the legal process can be even more difficult to deal with. Whether you and your spouse are on cordial terms or not, you might disagree about how to handle child custody after your split. You might not agree about where the child should live, how time should be split between parents, or who will take the child to and from school. There are countless issues that parents may disagree about, and those points of contention can lead to all-out arguments in a divorce. Although some couples are able to work through their child custody issues amongst themselves, many cannot.

When parents are unable to create parenting plans on their own, they must go to court to have the matter settled by a judge. If you are going to court in Tennessee for a child custody issue, it’s important for you to understand the factors the judge will consider before making a final decision.

About Custody in Tennessee

There are several different aspects of custody that parents need to understand before they go to court. Parents can be granted legal or physical custody of their child, or both. Legal custody grants the parent the right to make key decisions about the child’s well-being, such as education, medical decisions, and so on. Physical custody, on the other hand, grants a parent the right to care for their child, living with them and taking care of their daily needs. Both legal and physical custody can be granted to one parent, which is called sole custody, or split, granting both parents joint custody.

In special circumstances, grandparents might also be granted visitation rights as a part of the custody agreement, or they might even be granted custody of the child if the parents are deemed unfit.

Child Custody in Tennessee

When you go to court in Tennessee to resolve a child custody issue, the primary focus will be to make a decision in the best interest of the child.

There are several factors the judge will consider, including:

  • The relationship the child shares with each parent
  • The child’s age, gender, and health
  • The child’s choice, if the child is old enough to decide
  • The physical and mental health of either parent
  • Each parent’s income and ability to care for the child
  • The child’s current routine (school, community involvement, sports, religious activities, etc.)
  • Whether there is a history of child abuse

The decision ultimately boils down to which parent can better provide for the child. The judge wants to see that the parents are able to care for the child and provide him or her with a stable, nurturing environment. In an ideal situation, the custody agreement will also support parents fostering their child’s relationship with the other parent.

Whether you are trying to establish a child custody agreement after your divorce or you need to seek a modification to an existing child custody order, our firm can help. Our Clarksville family law attorneys can evaluate your case and provide you with the legal strategies you need in a family court.

To get started today, contact Patton | Pittman Attorneys and ask for a free consultation.

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