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Child Custody
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Tennessee Child Custody

Parents are expected to be involved in the lives of their young children-even if the parents' relationship with one another has ended through divorce or break-up. If you are getting divorced, the judge in your case will also rule on child custody, visitation and child support. Unmarried parents may have to go to Tennessee court to establish legal paternity. The court can also rule on issues related to their minor children. Each parent should be represented by a child custody attorney, who can help ensure that a fair arrangement is reached.


When a married woman gives birth to a child, her husband is legally presumed to be the child's father. However, a parent must take additional steps to establish the paternity of a child born to unmarried parents. In particular, this must be done before a court will rule on or enforce child custody, child support and visitation agreements.

In Tennessee, there are several ways to establish paternity of a child born to unmarried parents:

Child Custody

Tennessee law recognizes two types of child custody:

  • Physical custody determines with which parent a child resides
  • Legal custody determines which parent is responsible for making major child-rearing decisions, such as those related to education, religion and healthcare

In both instances, parents may share joint custody or one parent may have sole custody. If a parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will typically have visitation rights.

If parents cannot reach a mutually agreeable child custody decision, then the judge will make a custody ruling based on the best interests of the child. In most cases, the courts would prefer to have parents share joint custody unless it would be harmful to the child.

Child Support

Parents are also expected to share the financial costs associated with raising a child. Typically, this means that one parent will have to pay child support to the other parent.

In Tennessee, child support is calculated based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. The court is allowed to deviate from the child support guidelines if the calculation is inappropriate in a particular case.

Tennessee child support can also be adjusted based on a change in circumstances. These would include:

  • A significant change in one parent's income
  • A change in which parent the child spends more time with
  • A change in the child's financial needs (such as extraordinary medical or educational expenses)

Find & Hire Local Tennessee Child Custody Attorneys

Whether you live in Memphis, Knoxville or elsewhere in Tennessee, can quickly connect you with child custody lawyers and family law attorneys in your area. To use our free legal referral service, call us at 877-913-7222 or complete the form on this page.