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  • Writer's pictureThe Law Office of Allen E. Schwartz


When parents get divorced a judge will decide how to divide custody of the children. This will also determine who will make decisions for the child or children and where the kids will spend their time.

The Tennessee courts will often-times make one of the parents the kid’s custodial parent who will also become the child or children’s primary residence. The other parent will then be awarded visitation.

Child Custody In Tennessee

Child Custody includes parental rights and responsibilities that an adult is responsible for on behalf of the child or children.

Legal Custody - refers to decisions a parent will make on behalf of their child or children. This includes things like schooling, to medical and health care choices, after school activities, and religion choices. A judge will not remove legal authority from either parent unless it is necessary. Unless your case involves things like abuse, domestic violence, neglect, or substance abuse you will probably be awarded joint legal custody.

Physical Custody - refers to where the child or children will live, and how their physical time will be divided between the parents. In Tennessee this is known as parenting time.

Joint / Sole Custody – in Tennessee legal and physical custody operate independently of each another, and are addressed separately during a divorce. Your judge will award legal and physical custody either to one parent or to both parents.

The Tennessee courts typically believe that a child’s best interest is served when they are allowed to have a relationship with both parents. Courts normally will give both parents as much time as possible with their child or children, but this doesn’t always mean that is will be equal.

The Custodial Parent - Where Will My Kids Live?

A custodial parent will spend the most time with the child or children. This parent will provide the child or children’s primary residence. According to Tennessee law, you are a custodial parent if you spend more than fifty percent of the parenting time with your child. When determining which parent will be named the custodial parent, the courts do not look at what’s “fair” for the parents – they look at what is in the best interest of the child or children. Some factors that influence who will be the custodial parent include - the child’s social, educational, mental health, and community needs, the child’s ability to adapt to a new environment, the child’s need for stability during the divorce transition, the child’s individual relationship with both parents, each parent’s ability to provide for their child or children, each parent’s parenting skills, and any past history of abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues, neglect, or substance abuse.

A judge will decide who is named the custodial parent is, based on the kid’s best interest.

A Knoxville divorce and family law attorney can help advise and guide you during a divorce on common child custody issues in Tennessee.


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