Custody of a minor child can become an issue during a divorce proceeding, a paternity proceeding, or any time thereafter in the State of Tennessee. Ideally, the parents of a minor child are able to reach an amicable agreement with regard to custody of the child and reflect that agreement in the required “Parenting Plan” submitted to the court. Sometimes, however, the parents of a minor child are unable to agree on the issue of child custody. When that is the case, a court must ultimately decide the issue of child custody, ultimately deciding with whom the child will live the majority of the time. In the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-106 governs child custody, setting forth the factors that a judge may use when deciding the custody of a minor child. Those factors include:
(3) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment; provided, that, where there is a finding, under subdivision (a)(8), of child abuse, as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402, or child sexual abuse, as defined in § 37-1-602, by one (1) parent, and that a nonperpetrating parent or caregiver has relocated in order to flee the perpetrating parent, that the relocation shall not weigh against an award of custody;
(4) The stability of the family unit of the parents or caregivers;
(5) The mental and physical health of the parents or caregivers;
(6) The home, school and community record of the child;
(7) Child preferences
(9) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent or caregiver and the person’s interactions with the child; and
(10) 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.