Child Custody Laws in the State of Tennessee for a 12-Year-Old

By Wayne Thomas

Establishing a custody arrangement is a required step for all divorces involving minor children. Under Tennessee law, a court must determine custody according to the best interests of the child. Understanding how the child's age can influence custody decisions and his best interests can help remove some of the confusion for both you and your 12-year-old.

Establishing a custody arrangement is a required step for all divorces involving minor children. Under Tennessee law, a court must determine custody according to the best interests of the child. Understanding how the child's age can influence custody decisions and his best interests can help remove some of the confusion for both you and your 12-year-old.

Types of Custody

Establishing custody of any child in Tennessee involves both legal and physical custody components, regardless of his age. Legal custody refers to which parent makes major life decisions for your child. School choice, medical treatment, and church affiliation would be typical examples of decisions made by a parent with legal custody of a preteen. Physical custody refers to where the child sleeps most of the time. The parent with physical custody makes day-to-day decisions, such as when the child eats, sees friends, and does homework. Both types of custody can be shared between parents, or one parent can be awarded sole custody.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Factors Considered

Tennessee's best interests of the child doctrine requires that a judge consider several factors when deciding custody. One of these factors is the preference of a child 12 or older. Additional factors include the mental and physical health of both parents, the child's home, school and community record, and whether there has been any physical or emotional abuse in the family. No single factor is given more or less weight than the others. For example, even if your child is adamant that she prefers to live entirely with you, a judge might award shared custody or sole custody to his other parent if he finds there's a problem with your ability to care for the child.

Visitation

If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, the other parent will generally receive visitation time. This is based on the rationale that frequent and continuing contact with both parents is in your child's best interests. However, visitation may be limited or denied in cases where the emotional or physical safety of the child might be endangered. In these cases, the court has the option of ordering supervised visitation if it appears that the presence of a third party during visitation times would minimize the risk of harm to the child.

Modification

In order to modify a custody order in Tennessee, the law requires that a material change in circumstances must have occurred. Just as with the initial custody terms included in your divorce decree, courts will only modify a custody arrangement if the judge finds that it is in your child's best interest. Consistency is important to preteen children, so the court will only grant modifications in limited cases. An example might be a pattern of deliberate interference with your parenting time by your spouse, or if a parent has become abusive toward the child. After the court has determined that a change has occurred, the judge will then revisit the best interest factors and consider your child's preference. If it can be demonstrated that you are in a better position to care for the child's needs, custody will be modified.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Illinois Custody Laws After Divorce

References

Related articles

Divorce in Maryland: Can a Child Choose Where to Live?

It's hard enough for adults to accept that a divorce court can decide when and how they see their children. Telling a child that he must live where a judge says he must -- and that he has no choice in the matter -- can be doubly difficult. Several states take a child's preference into consideration when determining custody to try to avert this problem -- and Maryland is one of them. In fact, the state is one of the more progressive when it comes to accommodating the feelings of children involved in a divorce.

Child Custody Rights for 12 Years & Older

Establishing child custody can be a highly contentious aspect of divorce. Although each parent may feel entitled to a certain amount of contact and authority over a child, custody decisions are made according to what is best for the child. In cases where the child is of sufficient age to understand the nature of the proceedings, his or her participation and preference might be considered by the court. Understanding how state law impacts the custody rights of your pre-teen or teenage child will help you better prepare for the custody process.

Problems That Arise With Child Custody Cases

In establishing a custody arrangement, courts look to several factors outlined in state law to determine the best interests of the child. After the court makes this determination, however, situations can arise that make the original arrangement unworkable. You may need to call upon the court to modify a custody agreement if circumstances in your life change, such as if you need to move out of state, or it becomes clear that the current arrangement is not in your child's best interests.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Tenessee Custody Laws

Because child custody disputes often become contentious and emotionally charged, Tennessee has established specific ...

California Laws on Teenage Custody Wishes

Custody determinations often have a significant impact on the life of a child. For that reason, California law provides ...

Delaware Custody Laws

Custody represents an additional layer to the divorce process for parents of minor children. In Delaware, divorcing ...

Reasons to Deny Custody

Divorcing parents can't deny each other custody, but courts can do so. Judges typically do their best to preserve the ...

Browse by category