Until relatively recently it was fairly unusual for a father to have custody of his minor children. It was even more rare for a father to want custody of his children and be willing to wage a legal battle to get them. Traditionally, the law, either written or unwritten, was that when the parents of a minor child divorced, the mother was awarded custody of the children and the father spent a week-end, maybe two, with them every month. Fortunately, both the law and society have changed in the last several decades, making it possible for more and more men to actually seek custody of their minor children in a divorce or even when a child is born out of wedlock. If you are a father who wishes to seek custody of a minor child in Murfreesboro, Tennessee the most important step you need to take is to retain the services of a Murfreesboro custody attorney.
What May a Court Consider When Deciding Custody of a Minor Child?
During a divorce, a number of issues must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. If there are minor children of the marriage, custody of the children is one of the most important of those issues. If the parents are unable to decide where the children will live and with whom, a judge will need to decide. When making custody decisions, a Tennessee judge is limited with regard to the factors that may be considered in reaching a decision. In the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-106 governs with regard to the factors a court may consider. The court must use the “best interest of the child” standard at all times when making decisions relating to the custody of a minor child. In addition, a court may consider the following factors if they are applicable:
- The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents or caregivers and the child.
- The disposition of the parents or caregivers to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent or caregiver has been the primary caregiver.
- 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.
- The stability of the family unit of the parents or caregivers.
- The mental and physical health of the parents or caregivers.
- The home, school and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if twelve (12) years of age or older.
- The court may hear the preference of a younger child on request.
- The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children.
- Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; provided, that, where there are allegations that one (1) parent has committed child abuse, as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402, or child sexual abuse, as defined in § 37-1-602, against a family member, the court shall consider all evidence relevant to the physical and emotional safety of the child, and determine, by a clear preponderance of the evidence, whether such abuse has occurred. The court shall include in its decision a written finding of all evidence, and all findings of facts connected to the evidence. In addition, the court shall, where appropriate, refer any issues of abuse to the juvenile court for further proceedings.
- 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.
- Each parent 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.
Although it is unfortunate for everyone involved, when the parents of a minor child do not agree on who should have custody of the child a contentious legal battle often ensues. If you are a father who wishes to seek custody of his minor child(ren) in Tennessee divorce you need to be prepared for this likelihood. The best way to to do that is to have an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney on your side throughout the proceedings.
If you are contemplating adoption in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Murfreesboro, Tennessee divorce attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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