At some point in your divorce, you and your spouse must try to develop a child custody agreement. If you cannot create a custody agreement or parenting plan together, the judge in your case will make decisions for your family instead.
Even when parents agree on child custody and visitation, the judge will review the plan before giving it the stamp of approval. Judges typically approve agreements that preserve the best interests of the children.
What factors do judges consider?
Family judges must ensure divorce decisions do not compromise the happiness, security and psychological health of involved children. They look at many factors to develop a complete idea of what will preserve their best interests.
While each child custody case is unique, some of the factors most courts look at include the following.
- Child educational needs
- Parental substance abuse
- Age and gender of the child
- Religious and cultural factors
- Parental domestic violence patterns
- Ability to provide a stable environment
- Continuing contact with extended family
- The physical and mental health of parents
The judge will likely also look for evidence that either parent has used excessive discipline or subjected any child to emotional abuse. If sex abuse or child abuse patterns exist, the judge will examine these issues in-depth.
You need not fear the best interests of the child standard. You and your co-parent can use it to work on your parenting plan in hopes you can create one outside of the court.
Gaining a better understanding of Tennessee divorce and child custody laws is another way to ensure you obtain a parenting plan that benefits all.