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How domestic violence affects child custody in Tennessee

Every couple and family in Tennessee has disagreements and fights from time to time. This is common, but how people handle the fights vary from family to family. Some shut down and take time before they resolve it and some may attack the problem head on and resolve it right away. However, unfortunately some people resort to physical violence to resolve the fights. This is obviously not the right way to resolve the fight.

Domestic violence can have a very detrimental effect on the victims and these effects can last for a very long period of time. It is also illegal and can lead to criminal charges. Children who are either abused or witness abuse may also repeat the behavior as they grow older, and it can be very harmful for their upbringing. Due to this fact, domestic violence affects child custody determinations in a divorce as well.

Courts cannot give a parent custody who poses a substantial risk to the safety of the child. Also, while generally if one parent moves to keep a child away from another parent, it can be detrimental for that parent's ability to get custody, if the parent moves to escape domestic violence it cannot be used against that parent.

Domestic violence can also affect the abusive parent's ability to see their children. Before the court can grant visitation to an abusive parent, certain protections must be in place. One is that the visitation must be supervised by another adult or agency; the abuser must complete counseling prior to visitation; overnights are prohibited until the safety of the child is ensured and other conditions to keep the children safe.

Unfortunately domestic abuse occurs in many families in Tennessee. This can cause long-term negative consequences for the children involved. The courts also have a strong interest in keeping children in these situations safe, and therefore they will try to ensure the child's safety when making visitation and custody determinations. Attorneys understand how domestic violence affects custody determinations and may be able to guide one through it.

Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Domestic Violence in Family Law Matters" accessed on Nov. 28, 2017

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