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Tennessee Bar Association

Child Custody

In Tennessee, the primary goal of the child custody laws is preserving a strong parent-child relationship that is in the best interest of the child. Parents have a natural desire to nurture and care for their children. That desire does not fade away because of a divorce or legal separation. It is important that parents are allowed to spend as much time as possible with their children. Quality parenting produces children who will grow to become decent and productive members of society. Child custody is a major issue that must be determined during the course of a divorce or legal separation.

Divorcing or separating parents must create and submit a parenting plan to the judge for approval that will provide emotional and financial stability for the child. If they cannot agree, then the judge will create a plan based on the child’s best interest. The plan includes the residential schedule, the breakdown of parental responsibilities and the child support award. The residential schedule details who will be the primary residential parent and which days the child will spend with each parent. A temporary parenting plan will be adopted until the court creates a permanent plan at the conclusion of the divorce. The parenting plan can be modified if the parent making the request can prove a “material change in circumstances.”

What Does the Court Consider When Determining the Child’s Best Interest?
  • The court will examine the nature of the relationship the child has with each parent and if one parent provides most of the childcare.
  • How well each parent performed his or her parental duties and if the parents works to hinder the child’s relationship with the other parent;
  • If a parent, without good reason, declines to attend the parent education seminar;
  • The ability of each parent to provide the basic necessities for the child;
  • How a parent has performed as the primary caregiver;
  • The emotional bond between the parent and child;
  • The emotional needs and developmental level of the child;
  • The physical and moral fitness of each parent;
  • The child’s relationships with immediate family members;
  • The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;
  • If the parent has inflicted any physical or verbal abuse the child;
  • The mental and moral qualities of each individual who will live in the home with or have frequent interactions with the child;
  • The court will consider the custody desires and opinions of children over twelve (12) years old;
  • The parent’s work schedule; and
  • Any other information the court deems relevant.

If you are getting a divorce or legal separation and have minor children, then you need to hire a Nashville child custody attorney with extensive courtroom experience. You deserve to spend as much time with your children as possible. Attorney Byron Pugh represents parents across Middle Tennessee, including but not limited to Nashville, Franklin, Brentwood, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, Gallatin, Clarksville, Columbia, Davidson County, Sumner County, Rutherford County and Williamson County. Contact Byron Pugh Legal at (615) 255-9595 or (615) 957-9178 (after hours and weekends) or online to setup a free consultation.