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What the court looks at when considering child custody

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Divorce & Family Law

One of the most significant decisions to be made during divorce involves child custody and parenting time. In Tennessee, like most states, child custody decisions are made with one paramount goal: determining the child’s best interests.

This can be a complex process, especially when parents have difficulty reaching an agreement on their own. If you’re navigating the possibility of a litigated child custody, understanding the factors the court considers can help you prepare for this challenging situation.

Key factors influencing child custody decisions

Courts utilize a multi-factor test to determine what living arrangement best serves the child’s well-being. For starters, the court will evaluate the emotional bond between the child and each parent. This includes factors like:

  • The child’s age
  • The amount of time spent with each parent
  • The quality of their interactions

It’s important to note that the parent who has historically assumed primary responsibility for the child’s daily needs often carries more weight in the court’s decision.

The court will also assess each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s financial, emotional and physical needs. This includes factors like income, stability and access to healthcare. Moreover, judges prioritize minimizing disruption to the child’s life. This includes their current home environment, school and relationships with siblings and extended family. The court’s discretion also allows them to consider additional factors like:

  • Each parent’s work schedule
  • The character of anyone living in the home
  • Any mental health concerns that might impact parenting ability

Moreover, any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect can significantly impact custody decisions. This is because the court prioritizes the child’s safety above all else. It’s also important to remember that Tennessee family law requires the court to consider the reasonable preference of a child over the age of 12. However, the child’s wishes are just one factor and may not be the deciding one for younger children.

Understanding the factors considered in litigated child custody cases can empower you to make informed decisions about your child’s future. If you’re facing a custody dispute, remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Seeking legal counsel can provide invaluable support and guidance.