As you are considering your negotiations for the parenting plan during your Tennessee divorce, you may hear the words, “parenting responsibilities.” The Tennessee statutes define these words very specifically when it comes to activities and behaviors that foster a healthy parent-child relationship, which is the goal of the parenting plan.

First on the list of parental responsibilities—above physical, intellectual, social and financial support—is providing for your child’s emotional welfare. The courts care most of all that your child has a stable emotional environment. Your child’s healthy development, emotionally, intellectually and morally, depends on the nurturing, loving bond you have with him or her.

Physical welfare may be what most people think of when they think of a parent’s responsibilities in raising the child. You probably take it for granted that you will continue to feed and clothe your child, supervise his or her activities, schedule doctor and dentist visits, choose appropriate child care and all the other day-to-day aspects of parenting. The courts do not take it for granted and spell it all out in the statute to make sure no parent shirks these essential duties.

Making sure your child goes to school, does homework and gets tutoring if necessary are part of your responsibilities relating to his or her education. The statute also notes that you should help your child develop and maintain healthy and appropriate relationships with others.

Child support obligations are important, but parental financial responsibilities should go beyond the court-ordered payment. Parents should expect to provide more than that base amount to provide the financial security the child needs.

This overview of the Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-6-402 definition of “parental responsibilities” is provided for educational purposes and should not be considered legal advice.