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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

How is child custody determined here in Tennessee?

Unless an individual has an extensive legal background, most people are not prepared to go through child custody proceedings on their own. There are a lot of things that have to be known ahead of time, such as the rights of the parents as well as the rights of the child. A misunderstanding of rights or what is allowed under state law may lead to mistakes that could create even more complicated legal issues for those involved.

Here at Helton Law Firm, PLLC, we understand what's at stake during child custody proceedings and are dedicated to making sure that our clients don't make costly mistakes. We do this in a number of ways: by using our 25 years of experience handling family law cases and providing residents in southeastern Tennessee with legal information they can use to make more informed decisions in their child custody case.

One way that we provide information to Tennessee residents is through this blog where we sometimes answer questions asked by our readers. One question that often arises during custody proceedings is the one we asked in today's post title: how is child custody determined here in Tennessee? Let's take a look.

Though each state has the authority to enforce its own child custody laws, a majority of states across the nation have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which helps eliminate arguments over which state has jurisdiction when a child is taken across state lines. A majority of states also have a very similar way of determining child custody as well. It focuses on what is in the child's best interest, which may lead to joint custody arrangements or sole custody being awarded to one parent.

It's important to note that the "best interest of the child" doctrine gives judges a lot of discretion. They take a number of factors into consideration, sometimes including the child's own wishes. But in Tennessee, ยง 36-6-101 (2) (A) (i) explains that the courts are under no obligation to choose joint custody unless it is deemed in the child's best interest. This is generally considered frustrating to some parents because it puts the fate of family ties in the hands of a person who likely does not know the family very well.

Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Child Custody Laws," Accessed Aug. 14, 2015

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