Not only is a divorce painful for everyone in the family to go through, but often the years that led up to this moment as well. Persistent conflicts that can undermine a marriage over a period of time also create underlying tension that everyone can feel, so divorce, though difficult, is often the best decision for everyone in the end.
The events leading up to divorce as well as the proceeding itself can be particularly traumatizing to the children. What is in the best interest of the child is determined by the judge, who will look at each case through the lens of a number of criteria that must be met in order for him to grant custody and parenting time. In domestic violence situations, the judge will not be likely to grant sole or joint physical or legal custody to the abusive parent.
Standards for the best interest of the child
The United Nations ratified a treaty in 1989 that included a legal framework for defining children as independent human beings and individuals in their own right, not simply the property or wards of their parents. The Convention on the Rights of the Child identified clear guidelines that created a standard for the rights of the child, summarized by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN):
Children’s interests should be at the forefront of all decisions that affect them in every situation: adoption, detention, custody disputes between parents—everything.
Every state in America has since adopted these “best interest of the child” guidelines in determining child custody arrangements.
Custody decisions in Tennessee
Tennessee allows for both sole or joint custody as well as grandparent’s visitation rights, and a child’s wishes may also be factored into custody decisions. Tennessee courts examine the circumstances of each case in deciding ultimately what is in the best interest of the child, including:
- the child’s wishes, if of the age of maturity, as well as her stability, or ability to adjust to a change, in the current home, community and school environment
- the parents’ ability to take care of the child’s physical and emotional needs, and willingness to encourage a relationship with the other parent
- mental and physical health of the parents
- history of domestic violence, neglect or substance abuse
When going through a divorce in Jackson and throughout Tennessee, it is important have highly skilled legal counsel that will not only help protect your own parental rights, but also help you to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your child.