Millions of parents in the United States suffer from disabilities, which can include physical, emotional and intellectual disabilities. Although parents with disabilities can absolutely serve as great caregivers for their children, it is essential to anticipate issues with child custody when going through a divorce.
Tennessee has laws on the books that state a parent with disabilities may lose some child custody rights based on the disability. The laws are not as extreme as they are in other states, such as South Carolina and Oklahoma, where a parent's rights can go away entirely based solely on the disability. However, they can still cause problems.
The court must decide what is in the best interest of the child
Tennessee gives the burden to the court to decide what living situation benefits the child the most. In the vast majority of circumstances, it will be best for the child to have relationships with both parents and to see both an equal amount of time. The court reserves the right to terminate parental rights if there is evidence that the parent is not fit to raise a child based on the disability.
The court looks at whether the parent is capable of caring for the child and whether the parent's physical or mental state will improve in the near future to where the parent could conceivably better raise the child. The other parent must provide evidence to show why the disabled parent should not receive as much custody.
It is paramount to get ahead of the issue
The court needs to have as much information as possible to make an informed decision. That is why the parent with the disability must provide additional evidence that shows why he or she should have some custody. Courts always do their best to help the child have the best living situation, but you need to be upfront with all pertinent information.