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3 important factors in Tennessee custody litigation

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Child Custody

The best custody arrangements often come from parents trying to work together with one another instead of fighting against each other during divorce or non-marital separation. That ideal is not always realistic or achievable.

Some couples simply cannot cooperate because they have different priorities or perspectives. They may need to litigate their custody matters in the Tennessee family courts. If a family law judge has to make decisions about important custody concerns, their determination establishes what parental rights and responsibilities each adult has.

A judge should try to set terms that are in the best interests of the children. What factors do judges consider when trying to determine what could be in a child’s best interests?

The needs and preferences of the children

Every child has unique parenting needs. An autistic child, for example, may need more social support and also more screen time to help them unwind. Teenagers need discipline and guidance that differs drastically from the support that a kindergartener requires. The courts consider the unique needs of the children. If the child is over the age of 12, they may even have an opportunity to express their personal preferences. Judges take those factors into consideration when dividing parental rights and responsibilities.

The abilities and schedules of the parents

A judge has to consider how well a parent can potentially meet the needs of the children in the family. Some parents may have very demanding careers that leave them unable to ensure their presence on a regular basis. Others may struggle with substance abuse disorders or emotional regulation issues. Judges consider the prior relationship the parents have had with the children and numerous other personal factors when deciding how to allocate parental rights and responsibilities in Tennessee.

Broader family circumstances

Do the children get along with each other, or do they fight consistently? Does either parent have close family who can offer a degree of support during their parenting time? Secondary family relationships and support networks can influence what a judge believes an individual parent can provide for the children. Particularly in scenarios where there are numerous minor children or where one parent may live with their extended family after the divorce, secondary relationships and support networks can be an important consideration when allocating custody.

Most of the time, judges try to keep both parents involved with the children. Exactly how they divide parental rights and responsibilities depends on the circumstances of the adults and the relationships they have maintained with the children.

Recognizing that a judge wants to act in the best interests of the children could help those strategizing for litigated custody proceedings. Parents with an informed perspective during custody litigation can potentially convince a judge that their proposals are what might be best for their children.

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