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How Tennessee handles child custody


Tennessee parents who are getting divorced should understand some ways to effectively co-parent even after they are no longer married.

When getting a divorce in Tennessee, parents have to face the difficult task of identifying who will have what time and involvement with their children. From there, they will have to figure out how best to work together while raising their children separately. Tennessee’s approach to child custody has changed in the last few years. The state works to keep both parents actively involved in children’s lives.

What custody is awarded in Tennessee?

As reported by, a law passed a couple of years ago updated the state’s Parental Bill of Rights. No longer is there a distinction between legal and physical custody in which one parent cannot have access to the children at school. Now, courts are awarding custody to both parents equally. This is the case even if children live primarily with only one parent. There are exceptions to this when situations like domestic abuse are present.

Who can access school records?

Under the new law, both parents can have access to children’s records at school. They can also be involved at school even if they are not the custodial parent.

What is the goal of the new law?

The state changed its approach to child custody in an effort to facilitate better co-parenting between divorced spouses. Having both parents actively involved in a child’s life has been demonstrated to be in the child’s best interests.

What should people avoid to help their kids? explains that one of the worst things that children can experience is open hostility between their parents. Along the same lines, parents should never speak ill of their former spouses in front of or to their children. When children hear one parent criticize the other, it can create conflict inside of the kids as they want to equally love both parents.

What can ex-spouses do to reduce conflict?

MindBodyGreen suggests that when one parent becomes angry or upset with the other for something he or she did or said, taking a time-out can be helpful. Instead of responding to something right away, parents are urged to ask for time to think about an issue before replying. If the discussion happens over email or text, they can simply not respond immediately. Waiting until emotions have calmed down can go a long way toward keeping conflict at bay.

Cover all bases

The divorce process is a multi-faceted one. In order to have the energy necessary to work on developing good co-parenting skills, it can be wise to work with an attorney for the remainder of the divorce. This can help people feel more at ease knowing that other factors are being properly handled.

Photo of Jeffrey H. Jones
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