Tennessee Custody Laws: Child Custody Criteria
In Tennessee, the statutory and non-statutory criteria are taken into consideration by judges throughout the state when conclusively determining child custody case outcomes. According to Tennessee custody laws (Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-106), the statutory criteria judges use in making such decisions of finality are decided upon by the cumulative determination of the child’s best interest. Courts will utilize this criteria throughout the process of creating a Permanent Parenting Plan which will identify the Primary Residential Parent (PRP) and determine the residential schedule of the Alternate Residential Parent (ARP).
What Statutory Criteria Do Courts Use with Child Custody Cases?
According to child custody laws in the state of Tennessee, courts will take into consideration any factors relevant to the case, which include:
- What love and affection exists between parents and child;
- The ability of the parent to provide adequate clothing, food, educational care, medical care, and the extent to which the parent was able to fulfill the role of primary caregiver;
- The pertinence of continuity throughout the child’s life as well as the amount of time that the child has been residing in an environment of stability; granted, that in cases involving child abuse or neglect by one parent, the non-perpetrating parent has taken it upon themselves to relocate with the intent of fleeing the perpetrator, the relocation will not be counted against them in awarding custody.
- The stability and security of the parents as a family unit;
- The physical and mental fitness of each parent;
- Records of the child including those from their home life, school, and community;
- The preferences within reason of the child, given the child is over the age of 11; in some cases, such preferences may be considered by children under the age of 12 per request; typically, the older the child is, the more legal weight their preferences hold;
- In cases where there is evidence of abuse towards the child, the other parent, or any other family member, the court will take all evidence related to the emotional as well as physical well-being of the child into account. Following the final decision in these regards, the court will provide written findings of the evidence presented and, if necessary, allocate additional issues of abuse or neglect to the state juvenile court to continue subsequent hearings;
- The determined integrity, behavioral health, and interactions with the child of any additional persons which reside in or often visit the home;
- Both parents’ previous histories and potential for success in maintaining parental responsibilities, which will include the ability and desire of each parent to promote and foster closeness as well as the continuing growth of the relationship, in consistency with the child’s determined best interest;
- And, not including cases where lawful provisions dictate the contrary, Tennessee courts have the jurisdiction to initialize custody determinations in regards to the minor, or modify previous orders of child custody after conclusively determining that the custodial parent was liable for or convicted of the wrongful death of the other parent.
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What Non-Statutory Criteria Do Courts Use with Child Custody Cases?
In Tennessee custody laws, the non-statutory criteria for determining custody of a child by a court will include:
- The consistency and stability of the child’s placement
- Emotional attachments to and developed relationships with parents, siblings or other family members
- Personal preference
- Special needs of the child
- Parent’s plans for the education of the child
- Issues or concerns regarding the child’s gender
- Health, be it mental or physical, of prominent figures in the child’s life
- Reason of parents’ work schedules
- Style of parenting and disciplinary action
- Conflict Resolution
- Available Support Systems
- Issues or concerns regarding culture
- Personal ethics and values
- Religious belief systems
Choose an Experienced Tennessee Child Custody Attorney
With Nashville Law Offices, PLLC, our expert child custody attorneys have been familiarizing themselves with the statutory and non-statutory factors involved in the Tennessee child custody process for over 25 years. Having a lawyer who knows how each factor can be made to work in unison in order to achieve the outcomes you desire in your child custody dispute.
Contacting an attorney is the best course of action when facing child custody disputes, as the future and well-being of the child are at stake. Call or fill out a form today to schedule your initial consultation with a Tennessee child custody expert at no cost and without any obligations. We are here to help you achieve the results you and your child need!