As you prepare for a divorce, you and your soon-to-be-ex may agree that you want what is best for your children. Like other important decisions, however, you may disagree about what exactly that is. Should you not reach an agreement between yourselves, the decision may fall to the court.

Under Tennessee state law, the court seeks to order child custody arrangements that suit the best needs of the child and allow both parents optimal participation in their child’s life. To this end, the court may take into account a range of relevant factors.

Among the factors considered by the court when making child custody arrangements is the stability, strength and nature of your child’s relationships with you and with his or her other parent. If you or your former partner handled most of your child’s daily needs or most of the parenting responsibilities during your marriage, the court may also factor this into its decision. Further, the court may look at the existing emotional ties, love and affection between your child and you and his or her other parent; your and your former spouse’s willingness and ability to encourage ongoing relationships between each of you and your child; and your child’s interrelationships and interactions with siblings, step-relatives and other relatives.

Recognizing the importance of stability for your child, the court may also look at his or her developmental level and emotional needs. Further, your child’s involvement with his or her school physical surroundings or other activities may also play a role in the court’s decision. If your child is 12-years-old or older, the court may also consider his or her preferences.