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Impact of Domestic Violence

Nashville Lawyers Knowledgeable in Family Law Matters

An allegation of domestic violence during a divorce can have a significant impact on the proceedings and their outcome. Domestic violence can result in physical as well as emotional harm to spouses and children alike. These allegations can shape child custody and visitation disputes, making compromise impossible, especially when restraining orders are in effect. The Nashville family law attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC help people engaging in divorce proceedings protect their interests when they are making or facing allegations of domestic violence. Ensuring a family’s safety and preserving appropriate rights are critical in securing a healthy future for your loved ones and you.

The Impact of Domestic Violence Under Tennessee Law

Domestic violence includes physical violence as well as sexual assault or threats of harm or physical injury to a family or household member. In Tennessee, one act of domestic violence does not automatically bar a parent from visitation rights, but a court may impose limitations depending on the situation. The goal of any child custody or visitation determination is to ensure the arrangement allows both parents to be as involved as possible in their children’s lives. A court may weigh a variety of factors in determining physical custody, which is where a child primarily lives, as well as legal custody, which pertains to the decision-making abilities of each parent regarding important aspects of the child’s life. Both elements of custody are to be decided according to what would benefit a child’s best interests.

Under Tennessee law, a child may not be placed in the custody of an individual who may endanger his or her safety and wellbeing. Although domestic violence is a serious allegation that is involved in such a ruling, a court may not disallow custody for a parent accused of a single act that occurred a significant time ago. Courts consider both the severity and the temporal proximity of the abuse when making an evaluation.

When a parent has engaged in recurrent or recent domestic violence, he or she may be restricted to supervised visitation rights. Supervised visitation may be temporary, and it may be subject to automatic termination if a parent engages in certain actions set out in a custody order, such as therapy or other types of rehabilitative treatment. In the most extreme cases, a judge may terminate a parent’s parental rights. The termination of parental rights is a permanent act, which is ordered when there is overwhelming evidence of severe abuse, such as the sexual or physical abuse of a child that causes serious injury.

Consult a Compassionate Family Law Attorney in Nashville

Divorces that involve a history of domestic violence are complicated and often emotional. Having a dedicated legal advocate on your side can help ensure that your child’s best interests are served. The Nashville family law lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC are dedicated to helping people reach the appropriate resolution for their families. We represent people throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties, including in Franklin, Charlotte, East Nashville, and Hillsboro Village. Call us at 615-800-7096 or contact us online to set up an appointment with a divorce attorney.