Navigating Child Custody and Parents Rights in Tennessee

Child Custody

Does Tennessee have 'Child Custody'?

The State of Tennessee doesn’t recognize “child custody”. To be clear, Tennessee has what is known as “parenting time”. In some cases, a parent might receive more parenting time than the other. Therefore, the court generally tries for an arrangement allowing both parents the maximum participation possible. As a family law attorney, I understand the importance of having both parents in children’s lives. To that end, I will fight to make sure that you are treated equally and fairly in your legal case.

The legal standard in deciding who parents and what is the “best interest” of the child is analysis by the court. Therefore, if there is parenting litigation, you must be able to prove to the court that the child is better off with you.

Tennessee Child Custody Requirements

There are several requirements to adopt a child in the state of Tennessee. For adoption or “child custody” to proceed. First, a residence in Tennessee must be maintained for at least six months. Second, adoptees must have had physical custody of the child to start with or be able to show the court that they have the right to receive physical custody of the child. Third, a home study must be completed, for instance. Most potential adoptive parents must undergo a home study. Additionally, home studies determine if the home is an appropriate place for the child. Instances in which a home study may be waived, occur when the potential parents are also foster parents to the child or the home has already been approved as part of a prior case.

Child Custody Approval Process

A home will be be approved by the court. The home and parents must first demonstrate that adoption is also the best interest of the child. Many families are eligible to become adoptive parents. Likewise, there are currently no prohibitions against same-sex couples or other individuals from pursuing an adoption. If you are ready to begin the legal process, we can help. Please set up a call or free consultation to learn more about how we can help your family navigate the legalities surrounding child custody.

The Tennessee legislature uses a list of factors to help a judge determine parenting time. For a complete list of  those factors, follow this link: T.C.A §36-6-106(a)(1-15). A judge will evaluate all factors individually. Furthermore, parents who show emotional and economic stability, maintain drug-free lifestyles, and are actively involved in the social and educational development of their child will earn more favor with the judge than parents who are not.

Clients are better served if a judge does not rule on parenting time. That is to say, families are better off if they can come to an agreement about parenting time. Mediation or a collaborative settlement if often the best option. Agreements through mediation, are usually better for the family as a whole. Divorce doesn’t have to become lengthy. Divorces can be a quick and relatively easy process, if handled gracefully. This allows both parties to better preserve their assets. Consequently, divorce can be an extremely difficult time for both parents and children. As a result, some parents feel strongly about which parent should have more parenting time and, therefore, the judge may determine the outcome. Often, it is best to exhaust all options before letting a judge decide.


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What is "Standard Visitation" in Tennessee Law?

The general definition of “standard visitation” in Tennessee means that a non-primary (but still residential) parent enjoys parenting time every other weekend during the year. This also includes 2 weeks during Summer, and equally sharing holidays throughout the year. Christmas holidays, and school breaks such as those occurring in Spring and Fall are also shared equally. In my experience, it is also important to note, the effects of such arrangements on children. Therefore, it is important to remember to consider everyone’s feelings, geographical distances and other factors when determining visitation rights.

What are the different types of child custody in Tennessee?

Typically, custody is split into two types: Physical and Legal. In addition, the amount of time a child spends with their parent is based on their type of custody.

Can visitation rights be awarded to non-parents in Tennessee?

The State of Tennessee has laws that allow persons other than the natural parents to be granted visitation rights. If you are in a situation that is considered to be unconventional, you will want to learn about visitation scenarios that include special circumstances such as:

  • Step Parents
  • Visitation rights for Military Parents
  • Grandparents
Child Custody in Tennessee

Mark is very professional and is really a too notch lawyer. He was very knowledgeable and really cared about me and my kids, not just getting paid like most lawyers I've met.


If you are looking for a compassionate attorney to handle your child custody case, contact Gamut Legal for a free consultation.

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Family legal cases can be costly and consuming. If you would like to know more about how Gamut Legal can help you navigate your family legal issues, please contact us or schedule a free consultation.