Determining custody for unmarried parents

You and your partner welcomed a beautiful baby into the world. But there is no birth without bureaucracy, and you’ll need to establish guardianship of your new child.

Children outside of marriage aren’t uncommon, with 35.3% of all children in Knox county born to unwed parents. But you’ll need to define some standards, since you and your partner are both responsible for supporting your child, whether you’re married or not.

The child’s best interest

While a mother is usually the child’s custodian by default, the judge will have discretion in adjusting the custody based on your child’s best interest. The court will consider several factors:

  • Roles: If you’ll handle the major responsibilities when it comes to your child, it may count towards points in your favor. Making decisions and caring for them up to this point can show that you are ready to handle the load.
  • Resources: Your ability to satisfy your child’s needs could come into play. You’ll need to show you can provide housing, food and clothing, among other things. You’re not doing this alone, however, and child support can come into play.
  • Stability: Your physical and mental health could come under scrutiny in these proceedings. Making sure you can care for your child in every aspect they need is very important to the court, and problems in this area could be cause for concern.

Child support

In Tennessee, both parents are on the hook for supporting the child. Once the court awards custody of your child, the other parent will likely be required to pay child support. The order will consider day-to-day overhead along with overarching costs like health insurance and hired childcare. Amounts can change later for extra expenses, like travel costs and school trips.

Make sure you understand your parental responsibilities and what they can mean for the custody of your children. Knowing exactly what goes into finding what is in the best interest of the child could be in your best interest too.