Types of Child Custody

Child custody decisions are paramount to your relationship with your child. Tennessee courts have the right to determine child custody arrangements that are in the best interest of the children. The outcome of a child custody hearing can affect how often you see your child and under what circumstances. The stakes could not be any higher, and experienced family law attorneys in Nashville emphasize that it is crucial to understand the different types of child custody in the state and how decisions in these cases are made.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the right to make important decisions about your child’s life, such as where they live, which school they attend, the type of medical care they receive, and the religion they are brought up in.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is the physical care and supervision of your child. If you have physical custody, your child can live with you.

Legal and physical custody can both be joint, in which the parents share the right, or sole, in which one parent has the right.

Full Custody

When a parent is awarded full custody, the child lives with that parent full-time. The other parent may be given short-term visitation rights, which might allow the parent to take the child on outings or have them stay overnight with them, according to a schedule. If the custodial parent has concerns about the child’s safety, visitation may be supervised.

Joint Custody

In Tennessee, there is a presumption that children benefit by having meaningful, sustained contact with both of their parents. For this reason, many parents reach agreements regarding joint custody. However, these arrangements are rarely a true 50/50 split. One parent may have more time with the child or overnight time than the other parent. One parent may be considered the primary residential parent, which is where the child resides most of the time. The other may be considered the alternate residential parent where the child lives or visits occasionally.

How Custody Is Determined

Parents are encouraged to work out child custody disputes and collaborate to make a parenting plan that the court can improve. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the court can make child custody decisions based on what is the child’s best interests. These decisions are made by evaluating various factors, such as:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • Whether one parent has been primarily responsible for the child’s daily needs or the child’s primary caregiver
  • The ability and willingness of the parents to encourage and facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Each parent’s past and potential for performing parenting responsibilities
  • The parent’s ability to provide the child with their basic needs and necessary care
  • Each parent’s physical, mental, emotional, and moral fitness to parent the child
  • The child’s relationship with siblings, stepparents, and other relatives
  • The child’s physical surroundings, school, and other significant activities
  • The child’s emotional needs and developmental level
  • The importance of providing continuity in the child’s life and how long the child has lived in a stable environment
  • Evidence of physical or emotional abuse that affects the child
  • The character and behavior of any other person who resides in the parent’s home or visits it often
  • The child’s stated preference
  • Each parent’s work schedule

Get Help from an Experienced Nashville Child Custody Lawyer

If you would like to learn more about your legal rights and options concerning child custody in Nashville, TN, contact the Burdine Law Firm. Reach out to a Nashville child custody lawyer today by calling us at (629) 299-2228 for a free consultation.