When a couple calls it quits, it is not just their lives that are impacted, but the kids they share as well. Divorce means that kids may never share a living space with both parents ever again. It also means that they may have to move and change schools; which leads to the question, “can children decide where to live after the divorce?”
Under Tennessee law, kids aged 12 and older can voice their desire to live with either parent. The judge might give an audience to younger children too based on the circumstances of the case. However, the ultimate decision regarding the child’s living arrangement lies with the court.
The best interests of the child doctrine
Ideally, the court prefers a situation where both parents work out a custody arrangement with the help of their counsels. However, it is not uncommon for parents to fail to reach a consensus. If this happens, the court must step in and review the prevailing circumstances in order to arrive at a custody order that takes the child’s best interests into account. Alongside the kids’ preferences, here are some of the factors the court will factor when ruling on a custody order:
- Each parent’s living conditions
- The child’s emotional connection with each parent
- The parent who’s been the child’s primary caregiver prior to the custody case
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child (feed, shelter, clothe and provide medical care)
- The child’s ties to the community and school
- Each parent’s mental and physical state
- A history of child abuse, domestic violence and other violent crimes
Divorce can leave a lasting impact on the child’s life. Find out how you can work out a custody plan that safeguard’s your child’s best interests.