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TENNESSEE DIVORCE LAWS
Child custody can be a very confusing term. Most people believe child custody refers to which parent a child lives with most of the time, which is not true. Child custody has very little to do with how much time you get to spend with your child. Determining your child custody rights is actually a determination of how much decision-making authority you have in regards to your child’s upbringing.
Typically, you will be entitled to make decisions regarding the day-to-day care your child while the child is residing with you, including any emergency decisions affecting the health or safety of a child. It is common, however, to also specify in writing each parent’s decision-making authority for major topics including: (i) Educational decisions, (ii) Non-emergency health care, (iii) Religious upbringing and (iv) Extracurricular activities.
You should also consider whether you have any specific concerns regarding topics such as (i) tattoos, piercings and haircuts, (ii) social media, smart phone, gaming and internet access, (iii) participating in inherently dangerous activities such as riding ATVs, motorcycles, boating, football, firearms, fireworks or (iv) whether you need any rules regarding who can serve as a baby sitter or if you need to decide who can have unsupervised access to your child.
For each child custody topic, you will be determined to have either joint custody or sole custody as discussed below. Additionally, you should Click Here for a list of child custody rights each parent is entitled to pursuant to Tennessee law, unless otherwise modified by the court.
In joint custody, you will have full legal decision-making authority, but you must share your decision-making authority with the other parent. Prior to making joint custody decisions, you are obligated to ask the other parent what they think and try to come to agreements. You obviously may not always agree on important joint custody decisions. For disagreements, the court has the power to “break the tie” when you cannot agree in child custody decisions. To break the tie the court will consider the best interests of the child in making the final decision.
For topics where you have sole custody, you will have full decision-making authority in the decisions. That being said, there are ways to challenge your decisions even if you have sole custody regarding a given topic. The court will consider the best interests of the child in making the final decision.
Best Interests of the Child
You will likely discover the most important factors in determining the “Best Interest of the Child” end up being whatever factors are deemed relevant by the court, which sounds like common sense as it should be. My point is, your Judge will have the discretion to consider any factor relevant to the issue regarding your child and will not confine themselves to considering just the factors detailed by Tennessee law. Click here to learn more about the “Best Interests of the Child” factors as defined by Tennessee law.
For more information concerning an child custody in Tennessee, contact us and schedule a consultation. We are here to help navigate you through the Tennessee child custody laws.