Family First
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At what age does a child have a say in Tennessee custody issues?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2022 | Child Custody

It can be hard to find common ground with your ex about anything during a breakup or a divorce. Shared custody of your children will force you to frequently see each other, and you may disagree strongly about the right way to divide parenting time and other parental responsibilities.

Many times, children feel stuck in the middle of feuding parents during a contested divorce, especially when there is a custody issue. Sometimes, they choose to take sides, which can strain the relationship with the other parent.

Can a child’s opinion impact custody disputes?

If you recently been through a rocky time in the relationship with your child or if you know that your child feels uncomfortable around your ex ever since hitting puberty, you may wonder if your child’s preference will have any bearing on custody litigation in Tennessee.

If you and your ex cannot reach custody arrangement on your own before your day in court for a judge to review and approve, then the judge will set the terms for shared custody arrangements. Will a judge seek input from the children, and at what age will the preference of your children influence a custody decision?

Tennessee law leaves much to the discretion of the judge

The judge presiding over contested custody matters has to talk to everyone involved and try to understand the family’s home life and interpersonal relationships. The main focus of this process is to allow the judge to create a custody order that will do what is best for the children.

Sometimes, a judge will consider the opinions of the children. However, it is unlikely in all but the most extreme cases that a child can actually choose where they live. Instead, a judge might consider the statements made by a child in addition to other important factors.

To consider their opinion, a judge will have to determine your child is mature enough to make a sound decision for their own best interests. The expressed preferences can influence how how much weight a judge gives the child’s request when finalizing a custody order.

Familiarizing yourself with the rules that govern Tennessee custody proceedings will make it easier for you to protect the relationship with your children.