The term “custody” is somewhat outdated, as the judicial system has recognized the fact that even when the child of a divorce lives with one parent, both parents still usually have an important role in raising the child. In the state of Tennessee, the person with whom the child lives after a divorce is called the Primary Residential Parent, or PRP, and the other parent is called the Alternate Residential Parent, or ARP. In a final custody arrangement, a family court usually designates the terms of the agreement, including how much time the child will spend with the ARP. If the two spouses agree to these arrangements, the custody process generally proceeds smoothly. However, if there is conflict, it is wise to consult with a Tennessee Child Custody attorney.
Determinations that family courts make regarding parental custody in a divorce are made according to what they think is the best interest of the child. The court will consider the parenting ability of both parents and their ability and desire to provide emotional support, a good education, medical care, guidance, and other needs. It will also consider which parent can provide the most consistent and stable home environment as well as who has played the role of primary caregiver in the past. The family court will try to allow the child to remain in a location that is familiar to him/her so that the same schools can be attended and friends are not left behind. The best interest of the child doctrine is used to determine custody arrangements in the state of Tennessee and all other states as well.
During the custody process, a judge will perform a comparative fitness test. This test is an evaluation using the criteria outlined in state statutes that are considered to be important factors in raising a child. The court will consider any history of mental or physical abuse that has occurred to the child by either or both parents and the stability of the child’s home environment. It will also consider the emotional bonds that exist or that do not exist between the child and the parents. The mental and physical health of the parents is another important consideration, as is the need for continuity in the life of the child. Will it be better to uproot the child and move him/her to a new location to be with one particular parent, or should the child stay where he is? These are all things that will be considered in the parental comparative fitness test that is part of the initial custody determination process.
Child custody proceedings are an important part of a divorce. If you are getting a divorce and need help with custody issues, call to schedule a consultation with a Tennessee child custody attorney today. The legal experts at the Integrity Law Firm, PLLC, will be your legal advocate during this often difficult process and will give you relevant guidance and advice. We serve the cities of Chattanooga, Cleveland, Soddy Daisy, Collegedale, and surrounding Tennessee communities. You can view our web page at theintegritylaw.com or reach us by phone at 423-498-5001. Let us answer your child custody questions and give you the legal advice you can trust.