Factors Tennessee Courts Consider When Deciding Child Custody

When deciding child custody in Tennessee, the Family Court has a detailed list of factors from which consideration is made. Though the overriding objective is to base a custody decision on the best interest of the child, a myriad of smaller factors go into this larger analysis.  tennessee child custody

Tennessee Code 36-6-106 states in taking into account the child’s best interest, the court shall order a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child as it relates to the location of the residences of the parents, the child’s need for stability and all other relevant factors. Some of the relevant factors the court considers include the following:

  • the relative strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether one parent has taken greater responsibility for meeting the child’s daily needs
  • the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver, defined as the parent who has taken greater responsibility for performing parental obligations
  • the child’s interaction and relationships with siblings and with significant adults, as well as the child’s involvement with his or her physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities
  • the importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment
  • evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent, or to any other person
  • the character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person’s interaction with the child
  • the reasonable preference of a child who is 12 years of age or older; the court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request, and the preference of older children should normally be given greater weight than the preference of younger children
  • each parent’s work schedule (the court may make accommodations consistent with those schedules.

As the law lays out, past and current behavior plays a role in determining custody arrangements, and the law provides that past and current interactions between the child and the parents, siblings, and any other person can also be considered if that interaction impacts the best interest of the child. Parental conduct is also a very important factor, and judges are allowed to look at steps taken by parents to foster a good parent-child relationship when deciding child custody issues.

On the other hand, bad behavior and misconduct, such as alienation, manipulation, coercion, or negative actions toward the other parent can also be considered and typically harms a parent’s attempt to gain custody. The ability of a parent to be involved in the life of the child, the stability of existing living arrangements, and the difficulty or ease of making new adjustments can also be weighed.

Navigating through child custody is complicated and can seem overwhelming, that is why the services of an experienced family law attorney is paramount in obtaining the results you deserve under the law as it relates to the custody of your child. Contact our attorney, Donna Wagner, to schedule a consultation to discuss your child custody case.

 

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