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Factors used to determine which parent will have custody

There are many different parental situations in Knoxville. Sometimes the parents are married, sometimes they are divorced or separated and in other situations the parents were never married. While the parents are married, they are generally living together and raising the children together. However, if they divorce or were never married in the first place, this is not usually the case. The parents will live separately, but that does not mean that only one parent is responsible for raising the child.

It does mean that there must be an order to determine whether one parent will have child custody or whether the parents will share custody of the child. Custody in general is just decision making for the child regarding decisions such as education, religion, medical decisions and others. However, custody orders often times will also include a parenting plan or visitation schedule determining when each parent will have the children.

In making the custody decision, there are a number of factors that a court will analyze. These factors include, but are not limited to, which parent generally took care of the children during the marriage or in the past, if one parent is abusive, if either parent has drug or alcohol problems, whether a parent is living with another individual, each parent's morals and others. All of the factors are analyzed to determine what is in the best interests of the children, which ultimately governs the custody decision.

In Knoxville, parents' relationships with their children are important. This is true whether the parents are together or not. The law is designed to try and maintain these relationships, but ultimately the custody determination will be made based on what is in the best interests of the child. Child custody matters are very fact specific though and each one is unique. It is important to understand the law to ensure the children's best interests are met.

Source: Knox County Bar Association, "Divorce, Child Custody, Visitation & Child Support" accessed on Jan. 3, 2017

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