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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

The primary caregiver and determining child custody matters

When Tennessee parents who are going through a divorce are unable to reach agreements regarding child custody matters, the family court judges who make the determinations for them will begin by looking at who has been the child's primary caregiver. If it is unclear or if it appears that the parents have both served in that role, the court will then look at the best interests of the child when ruling on who should be awarded primary physical custody.

The primary caregiver is the parent who has had the responsibility of taking care of the child's day-to-day needs. This may include a variety of different tasks, such as attending school meetings, fixing meals, shopping for school clothes, taking the child to doctors' appointments and taking the child to extracurricular activities.

Under the best interests of the child standard, the court will consider a number of additional factors. These might include whether the two parents reside in the same school district or in separate ones, the attachment the child has to his or her school and to other members of each household, whether or not there is any evidence of alcohol or drug abuse and whether or not either parent has a history of domestic violence, among others.

A parent who is going through a custody dispute may want to have the assistance of a family law attorney. Legal counsel may be able to negotiate a parenting agreement that will be workable for both the client as well as the child. In many cases, parents are happier when they are able to reach agreements without taking their disputes to court.

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