If you are like many other Tennessee parents who are separating or divorcing, your primary concern is making the best decisions you can for your children. You and the other parent may no longer make good partners, but that does not mean that you aren’t good parents.

Acknowledging this about each other could be the first step in coming to an agreement regarding the custody of your children that the court will approve. Even if you are able to work out your issues without court intervention, it may help to know what criteria the court would use to make child custody decisions so that you can help ensure that your agreement meets with its approval.

The court’s considerations

Here are the major factors the court considers when determining child custody issues:

  • The court will consider what would be in the best interests of the children. This includes how any arrangement would affect their physical and mental well-being.
  • The physical and mental well-being of each parent also bears consideration.
  • Generally, if you have a child that is 12-years-old or older, the court will consider his or her preference. The child’s age is only part of this equation, however. The court will also consider the maturity level of the child.
  • The court examines the relationship each child has with each of the parents.
  • The court will also look for the willingness of each parent to encourage and foster relationships between the other parent and the children.
  • Each parent’s ability to provide and care for the children makes a difference as well.
  • The court examines whether any domestic, physical or emotional abuse took place in the home.

Keeping these factors in mind when creating your own custody agreement and parenting plan may help ensure that the court will find it satisfactory.

Your considerations

One of the primary benefits of creating your own parenting plan and child custody agreement is that both parents retain control over their structure. You may be able to consider arrangements that the court either won’t or couldn’t consider. In addition, you can add in provisions regarding how to resolve disagreements between the two of you when it comes to the children. Even married parents don’t always agree, but in your case, having a predetermined way to handle these disputes could help each of you remain on track.

Moreover, you don’t have to go through this process alone. Collaboration and mediation can help keep your negotiations with the other parent from stalling or completely breaking down.