One of the most difficult aspects following a divorce is who will get custody of the child or children. If both parties can agree, it is a relatively simple matter but if not, then the court will determine the arrangements for custody based on the best interest of the child. Custody can be decided at any point between the parties who are divorcing, such as at mediation and a court can award temporary custody if requested by either of the parties while discussions are ongoing. Only if the parties cannot reach an agreement, will custody be decided by the court.
When divorcing in Tennessee, all divorcing parents must enter into what is known as a Permanent Parenting Plan which will outline both the physical and legal custody of the children. Legal custody is to do with decisions about the child’s health, welfare and education, and physical custody is where the child will live.
If the case has to go to court, under Tennessee statute, the court will consider the wishes of the child as long as they are older than 12 years and their wishes will be taken into consideration in the court’s decision. The court will also decide on what is known as visitation, although the term in Tennessee is parenting time, which is the number of days each parent has physical custody of the child.
In previous years the courts would usually favor the mother when it came to custody especially for younger children, but nowadays this is no longer the case.