What factors do Tennessee courts use to decide child custody?

Married couples may never find it easy to divorce. Where love once existed between each partner, now anger may have replaced that emotion. As they consider custody and visitation for the children, the couple may allow their emotions to lead them. This may result in an arrangement that makes the children unhappy. Or the judge may make the decisions for the couple.

Child custody decisions may be complex

As couples try to make the right decisions about their divorce, it may be difficult for them to set sadness, hurt or anger aside. This may lead to making a decision about the custody of their children that may cause pain to the other spouse. Children need both of their parents to make calm decisions that may benefit them once the divorce has been finalized. If the children want to live with the other parent, they may be hurt after the judge decides to award custody to the other parent. Judges try to make custody decisions that benefit, not hurt the children.

The factors the court may use in making a ruling

Tennessee law requires family court judges to consider several factors before they make decisions regarding child custody. These factors include:
  • Ability of the children to adjust to new school and home
  • Ability of the parents to provide for their child’s needs
  • Parenting skills and the desire to support a relationship between their child and the other parent
  • If the child is mature enough, their wishes regarding custody
  • History of child abuse/neglect, domestic violence or use of substances
  • Custodial parents’ willingness to work with custody and visitation schedules

Family courts may decide child custody if the parents haven’t come to an agreement

Should the parents be unable to make a decision on custody or visitation, the family court judge may make that decision. Child custody laws in Tennessee do make provisions for grandparents’ visitation rights and joint custody. Parents who learn about the factors used in deciding child custody help their children.