Child Custody Factors in Tennessee



In a suit for divorce, or in any other proceeding requiring the court to make a custody determination regarding a minor child, the Court makes a determination on the basis of the best interest of the child. In taking into account the child's best interest, the Court considers these factors.

  1. Factor One

    The strength, nature, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent, including whether one (1) parent has performed the majority of parenting responsibilities relating to the daily needs of the child;

  2. Factor Two

    Each parent's or caregiver's past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities, including the willingness and ability of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child's parents, consistent with the best interest of the child. In determining the willingness of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child's parents, the court shall consider the likelihood of each parent and caregiver to honor and facilitate court ordered parenting arrangements and rights, and the court shall further consider any history of either parent or any caregiver denying parenting time to either parent in violation of a court order.

  3. Factor Three

    Refusal to attend a court ordered parent education seminar may be considered by the court as a lack of good faith effort in these proceedings.

  4. Factor Four

    The disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care.

  5. Factor Five

    The degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver, defined as the parent who has taken the greater responsibility for performing parental responsibilities.

  6. Factor Six

    The love, affection, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child.

  7. Factor Seven

    The emotional needs and developmental level of the child.

  8. Factor Eight

    The moral, physical, mental and emotional fitness of each parent as it relates to their ability to parent the child. The court may order an examination of a party under Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and, if necessary for the conduct of the proceedings, order the disclosure of confidential mental health information of a party under § 33-3-105(3). The court order required by § 33-3-105(3) must contain a qualified protective order that limits the dissemination of confidential protected mental health information to the purpose of the litigation pending before the court and provides for the return or destruction of the confidential protected mental health information at the conclusion of the proceedings.

  9. Factor Nine

    The child's interaction and interrelationships with siblings, other relatives and step-relatives, and mentors, as well as the child's involvement with the child's physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities.

  10. Factor Ten

    The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment.

  11. Factor Eleven

    Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person. The court shall, where appropriate, refer any issues of abuse to juvenile court for further proceedings.

  12. Factor Twelve

    The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child.

  13. Factor Thirteen

    The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court MAY hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preference of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children.

  14. Factor Fourteen

    Each parent's employment schedule, and the court may make accommodations consistent with those schedules; and

  15. Factor Fifteen

    Any other factors deemed relevant by the court.