Tennessee Child Custody Laws

Little girl walking hand in hand with mother

Child custody laws vary slightly from one another in every state across the U.S. In fact, some Tennessee child custody laws have changed drastically within the past couple of decades. Some of these laws may be generally unknown to the common citizen, which makes it all the more important that you get to know the Tennessee child custody laws if this is where you live.

Types of custody that Tennessee child custody laws facilitate

The typical types of custody that is granted in Tennessee are no different from those of many other states. Physical custody has to do with the day-to-day care of the child while legal custody has to do with the decision making for the child. Sole or joint types can be applied to either of these two types of custody.

Tennessee child custody laws aim to put co-parents in control

Tennessee family courts most often prefer that co-parents reach an agreement outside of the courtroom to determine their own custody arrangement. You and your co-parent must create and agree on a parenting plan, which you will then submit to the court for approval. In some cases, if no agreement can be reached the court will require that the co-parents hold discussions about custody with mediators present. These must be professional mediators and in most cases it will be an attorney.

Tennessee child custody laws uphold the best interest of the child

Tennessee child custody laws and courts always uphold what they see as the best interest of the child over the preferences or desires of the co-parents. This is no different from the family courts of any other U.S. state. Most of the factors that Tennessee child custody laws consider when determining the best interest of the child are pretty straight forward and involve the relationship with each co-parent and the child. One factor that may differ from many other states is that the Tennessee child custody laws put a definite age of 12 years old on whether or not they will consider the reasonable preference of the child. Most other states do not put a definite age on this; instead they consider age combined with the observed maturity of the child. In some cases, Tennessee family courts will hear the preferences of younger children, though they hold much less weight than those of older children.

Relocation and joint legal custody in Tennessee

The relocation of the custodial co-parent and child is treated much differently in Tennessee than in most other states. In cases where joint legal custody is enforced, the custodial parent is allowed to move out of the state with the child without having to modify the original custody order. Unless the non-custodial co-parent can provide evidence that the custodial co-parent is only relocating to prevent a close relationship between the non-custodial co-parent and the child.

Tennessee child custody laws make sure that both co-parent have rights to their child

In most cases, even if you are not the primary custodial co-parent for your child, Tennessee child custody laws ensure that you will have certain rights to your child. These rights include regular telephone conversations, the right to send mail to the child without being tampered with by the other co-parent, the right to the child’s records and documents, and more. By law, the custodial co-parent cannot interfere with these rights. For more information about these rights consult with a Tennessee family law professional.

This information is not to be used as legal advice. For additional aide and legal information please consult with a Tennessee family law professional regarding Tennessee child custody laws. For a list of resources in Tennessee visit our Helpful Links – Tennessee page. The OurFamilyWizard website® is dedicated to providing co-parents with the tools and resources they need to easily manage their custody agreements.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.