Going through a divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. Not only are you dealing with the emotional and financial impact of the divorce on your life, you must also make tough decisions about what is in the best interest of your child. Your child will no longer have both parents living with him or her on a full-time basis. Decisions must be made regarding which parent will have custody and how visitation will be assigned.
Child custody can be one of the most sensitive and highly contested issues in a divorce proceeding. The experienced child custody lawyers of Parkerson | Santel, PLLC, understand that you want to protect your child and do what is best for him or her. When you and your spouse do not agree on what is in the best interest of your child, it is important to have an attorney who is committed to effectively representing your interests and your child’s interests. We fight to ensure that your rights and your child’s rights are protected as the court determines what is in the best interest of your child.
Determining What is In the Best Interest of Your Child
The overriding principle in all custody cases is what is in the best interest of the child. If parents can agree on the terms of custody, the court will generally incorporate those terms into a Permanent Parenting Plan provided the court agrees that the proposed custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. When parents cannot agree on custody matters, the court must determine this based on the evidence presented in court.
Factors Used to Determine Custody
In order to determine what is in the best interest of a child in a custody case, the judge must consider relevant factors as outlined in Tennessee’s child custody laws. The court shall order a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child consistent with the factors set forth in the statute, which include:
- The existing bonds between the parents and the child
- The parents willingness to provide the child with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and other necessary care
- The effect of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has resided in a stable environment provided there are no allegations and findings of abuse
- The stability of each parent
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The school, home, and community record for the child
- Preferences of children 12 years of age or older; however, the court may hear the preference of younger children by request
- Evidence of child abuse, spousal abuse, or abuse to any other person
- The character of other people living in the home or regularly visiting the home
- The past and potential future performance by each parent with regard to parenting responsibilities and the willingness to encourage and foster a close and loving relationship between the child and the other parent