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Child custody and parents with disabilities

Living with a disability can bring many challenges to daily life. However, many disabled parents have learned not just how to cope with a disability, but how to thrive and have a full life. According to, here are some facts about disabilities and parental rights.

  • One in ten American children has a parent with some form of disability.
  • In the U.S., more than four million parents live with a disability.
  • In all states, courts can factor in parental disability when determining a child’s best interests.
  • In 35 states, a parent’s rights could be terminated because of their disability

Tennessee is one of the states where a parent’s rights can be taken away due to a mental illness or an emotional, developmental or intellectual disability. As you might expect, this could be a major issue for divorcing disabled parents seeking child custody.

Courts have the enormous burden of determining what child custody arrangements will serve the best interests of any involved children. While this is an admirable goal, it is also a difficult task. If the court has only limited information about the disabled parent, the decision may cost a parent their rights.

One of the first things that disabled parents should consider when getting divorced is how to protect their parental rights. Courts do the best they can to make fair child custody decisions, but they need accurate information about each parent, the children and the living situation to make sound decisions.

Legal assistance is usually helpful in these situations. A family law attorney can help disabled parents gather solid evidence supporting their ability to nurture their kids and present this evidence to a Tennessee court.