Can One Parent “Win Custody” of the Children under Tennessee Law?

When many people think about the impact of divorce on their family they focus on “winning custody,” where the belief is that one parent will have most of the control and most of the parenting time, and the other parent will have only “visitation privileges.”  This is the old model and no longer applicable under Tennessee Law.

Under current Tennessee Law both parents can share time with the children equally, or one parent can have more than 50% of the time.  The parent with more than 50% is called the “Primary Residential Parent.” The other parent is called the “Alternate Residential Parent.” These designations do not apply if the parents share time equally.

Under the new law both parents’ roles are important. For instance it is common for  the Parenting Plan to provide for “joint decision making” for the major decisions affecting the children, independently of how parenting time is allocated.  And, under the law, both parents are encouraged to spend as  much time as possible with each of their children, along as it is in the best interest of the child.

This new approach eliminates what were often mis-guided and harmful fights over which parent would “get custody.”