If you are due to attend a child custody hearing, you may be nervous because there is a lot at stake. Especially if you don’t feel you are the “ideal” parent. Yet, there may not be as much at stake as you think.
While a court could strip a parent of all rights regarding their child, it is unlikely. Tennessee law starts with the presumption that joint custody is in the child’s best interests. Judges would only take the drastic measure of refusing you custody if they believe there is an exceptional reason not to award it, such as you pose a serious threat to your child.
If you sometimes get a bit grumpy and shout at your kids when they do things wrong, it is unlikely to cost you custody. Despite what your spouse might think. Few if any parents could claim they have never lost their temper. Judges understand that because many of them are parents too. Violence, abuse, or substance abuse are the sort of things that would cause a judge to keep you away from your child.
Even then, a judge may not take custody away entirely
Judges have a range of tools at their disposal. For instance, imagine you have some alcohol issues that you are working on. The judge may not feel you are in the right place to have your child stay overnight with you yet. They might even worry about you during the daytime. What they could do is allow you to spend time with your child with the supervision of someone else.
Remember that there are two elements to custody — physical and legal. Even if a judge does not want you to see your child until you are better, they will not necessarily remove your right to share legal custody, which concerns decision-making rights.
Custody hearings can be stressful, especially if you fear a bad result. Understanding more about custody laws allows you to spend less time worrying about improbable situations and more time on improving your personal situation, should you need to do so. If you do not get the outcome you hope for this time, you can appeal for a modification later, especially if you get the help you need and are in a better place.