Child custody is often a strong source of conflict between spouses. Deciding which parent the children should live with or whether both parents should share custody does not always involve immediate agreements. One parent often has a different view of how the child should be raised and who is capable of raising the child. Some of these conflicts can be solved with mediation meetings, but in cases of unresolved disputes, the family court will become involved. 

Family courts look at various factors to determine what type of child custody should be awarded. Feel free to talk with a Tennessee family law lawyer if you have any questions about this process. 

Best Interest of Child Standard

The  standard is upheld by all family courts when it comes to any legal decisions that involve children. This standard helps courts decide which parent is capable of raising the child in a healthy and safe environment. What courts are looking for in this scenario is whether the parent can provide for the child’s basic needs.

Courts want to provide the child with a parent who can ensure the child is educated, protected, and given

resources for basic needs. Basic needs mean food, clothing, and shelter. At the same time, there is a preference for not removing the child from what the child considers to be home. Family integrity is also promoted. For example, courts will make some attempts to keep siblings together. 

Parent factors are also considered in the best interest of the child standard. This means looking at a parent’s physical and mental health. Courts want to make sure the parent is healthy enough to adequately provide for the child’s needs. Past domestic violence, abuse, or neglect may affect child custody and visitation decisions. The potential effects of the parent’s home environment and the effects of major adjustments for the child will also be taken into account.

Factors Courts Use to Decide Child Custody

In some cases, courts will consider the child’s own preferences for which parent the child wants to live with. For a child custody decision like this, where the child prefers one parent over the other, a family court may award . Exclusive custody means one parent will have all the custody rights over the child. This means physical and legal custody. 

Joint custody is another potential outcome for child custody disputes. A court may find that the best solution is to have the child or children stay with both parents but at different times. In unique circumstances, a court may even award custody to a third party like a grandparent, uncle, or aunt.