best interests of the child for tennessee

Under the Tennessee Code, custody determination for a minor child shall be made on the basis of the child’s best interests in any action for annulment, divorce, separate maintenance, or any other procedure requiring a court to make a custody determination regarding a minor child.

A custody arrangement that allows both parents to participate as fully as possible in the lives of their children while taking into consideration the factors listed below, as well as the location of the parents’ residences, the child’s need for stability, and all other relevant factors, shall be ordered by the court in the child’s best interest.

Where applicable, the court shall take into account all relevant factors, which may include, but are not limited to: Tenn. Code § 36-6-106

  1. The strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether one (1) parent has performed the majority of parenting responsibilities relating to the daily needs of the child;
  2. Each parent’s or caregiver’s past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities, including the willingness and ability of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child’s parents, consistent with the best interest of the child.
  3. Refusal to attend a court ordered parent education seminar may be considered by the court as a lack of good faith effort in these proceedings;
  4. The disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care;
  5. The degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver, defined as the parent who has taken the greater responsibility for performing parental responsibilities;
  6. The love, affection, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;
  7. The emotional needs and developmental level of the child;
  8. The moral, physical, mental and emotional fitness of each parent as it relates to their ability to parent the child;
  9. The child’s interaction and interrelationships with siblings, other relatives and step-relatives, and mentors, as well as the child’s involvement with the child’s physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities;
  10. The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;
  11. Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person;
  12. The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person’s interactions with the child;
  13. The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older;
  14. Each parent’s employment schedule, and the court may make accommodations consistent with those schedules; and
  15. Any other factors deemed relevant by the court.

Upon finding that the custodial parent was found criminally or civilly culpable for the intentional and wrongful death of the child’s other parent or legal guardian, the court has the authority to issue an initial custody determination or to modify a prior order of child custody for the child.

The disability of a parent seeking custody does not create a presumption in favor of or against such an award, but may be a factor considered by the court.

Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

When a petition for grandparent visitation is considered, the court must first evaluate whether the child is in imminent danger of substantial injury.

In determining the child’s best interests according to § 36-6-306, the court shall examine all relevant factors, including but not limited to the following: Tenn. Code § 36-6-307

  1. The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent and the role performed by the grandparent;
  2. The existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent;
  3. The preference of the child if the child is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference;
  4. The effect of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child manifested before the child, and the willingness of the grandparent, except in case of abuse, to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents, or guardian or guardians of the child;
  5. The good faith of the grandparent in filing the petition;
  6. If the parents are divorced or separated, the time-sharing arrangement that exists between the parents with respect to the child;
  7. If one (1) parent is deceased or missing, the fact that the grandparents requesting visitation are the parents of the deceased or missing person;
  8. Any unreasonable deprivation of the grandparent’s opportunity to visit with the child by the child’s parents or guardian, including denying visitation of the minor child to the grandparent for a period exceeding ninety (90) days;
  9. Whether the grandparent is seeking to maintain a significant existing relationship with the child;
  10. Whether awarding grandparent visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship; and
  11. Any court finding that the child’s parent or guardian is unfit.

The court shall determine whether grandparent visitation would be in the child’s best interest based on the factors in § 36-6-307. On the basis of such a determination, a visiting order may be granted.