Child Custody
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Custody Decisions Can Be In Everyone’s Best Interests

When a marriage or a nonmarital relationship in which the two parties share a child ends, a primary concern is how it will impact the child. Tennessee child custody laws require that the courts act with the best interests of the child in mind. Typically, parents want to do the same.

At Jessica Newhart Attorney at Law in Kingsport, I help parents work together to reach agreement on custody issues so that they can retain more control over the outcome. After all, you will need to work together after a divorce to raise your child, so it makes the most sense to keep as much control as possible over what your child’s life will look like.

Parents should understand that they can dictate what their post-divorce life looks like in terms of parenting as long as it adheres to the court’s notion of being in the best interest of the child.

Factors Affecting Custody Decisions

There are two types of custody in Tennessee: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to each parent’s right to be informed about and participate in decisions regarding education, religious upbringing, medical care and other relevant matters. Physical custody refers to where the child spends his or her days and nights.

Joint legal custody is common. Joint physical custody, in which both parents share time with their child equally, is possible. However, it is more common for one parent to be the custodial parent and the other to be the noncustodial parent who receives a certain number of days per month to be with their child.

If parents are unable to resolve child custody disputes, the court will consider a number of factors in determining the custody arrangement. These include:

  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to provide proper care for the child, including food, shelter and clothing
  • The strength and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a healthy and continuing relationship with the child’s other parent
  • The degree to which each parent provided parental responsibilities and was involved with the child emotionally prior to the end of the parental relationship
  • The importance of continuity in the child’s life
  • The child’s interaction and relationships with siblings, grandparents and other people that are reliant on where the child lives
  • The child’s involvement with school and other activities that may be impacted by custody decisions

Unmarried Parents

For the most part, the custody laws that pertain to divorced parents apply to parents who have never been married. However, there are some differences, primarily regarding paternity. When a child is born to a married couple, the husband is automatically considered the legal father. Fathers who are unmarried at the time of birth must establish paternity to claim rights of legal and physical custody.

If paternity is not established at the time of birth, it can be done when unmarried parents end their relationship through acknowledgment, a court order or DNA testing.

Helping You Protect Your Parental Rights

It is best for both parents to remain involved in their child’s life. I work to help my clients reach the custody agreement that is best for their children. I welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about custody and provide an assessment of what you can expect. Call 423-408-2574 or complete my online contact form to schedule a meeting.