The best interests of a child: Tennessee’s considerations

Tennessee law requires that a court consider the best interests of a child when deciding child custody and visitation matters. In making a determination for a family law matter, the court looks to several important factors.

The court's ultimate goal is to make an order that does not disrupt the child's life and permits the child to maintain a relationship with both parents, if possible. Once the order is created by the court, it is binding on the parents of the child.

Under Tennessee law, courts are required to consider each parent and determine the merit of his or her parenting skills. This includes his or her willingness to encourage the child to have a good relationship with the other parent. In essence, the court will look to the mental, emotional, physical and financial stability of each parent in its evaluation of a party.

Factors that determine the best interests of a child

Preference: In some cases, the court might place weight on the personal wishes of a child who is over the age of 12. The preference of an older child in Tennessee will be given more consideration than a young one. In the overall assessment, the court will study the "love, affection, and emotional ties between the parents and child."

History of domestic abuse: The state additionally requires courts to consider whether a child was mentally or physically abused by a particular parent. This evaluation takes into account whether one parent has abused the other. The court does not want a child to be potentially exposed to violence.

Child-rearing factors: In addition, the best interests evaluation involves the following child-rearing matters:

  • The parents' ability to prep their child for adulthood
  • The likelihood that parents can provide the child with shelter, food and other necessities
  • The child's developmental and emotional needs

These are just a few of the important factors that the court will assess. In addition, a judge will acknowledge whether both parents have acted in good faith during the court proceedings.

Child custody and visitation issues are not taken lightly in Tennessee; family law courts will not risk the fate of a child. The goal is to provide a safe, secure and loving home where a child can prosper and develop. If you know that you can support your child's future and wellbeing, contact a reputable family law attorney. A qualified lawyer can help you build your custody or visitation case.