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Terminating an abusive spouse’s parental rights

Sadly, it has been our experience here at Runyon and Runyon that those Clarksville clients who come to us as victims of domestic violence have often seen that abuse extend to their children. If you feel the need to protect your kids from an abusive ex-spouse, the law may be your ally in this quest. It may even provide you with the opportunity to terminate his or her parental rights altogether.

The Annotated Code of Tennessee lists certain cases involving the termination of one’s parental rights that are directly related to domestic violence. For example, if your spouse has been found to have been committing severe abuse against your child, or has been sentenced to more than two years of imprisonment for such abuse, the court may choose to end his or her parental rights. However, that abuse does not have to have occurred while you were married, or even be directly to your child in order for you to seek action ending his or her rights.

If, say, your ex-spouse remarries or begins any sort of cohabitation or relationship that introduces other children into his or her home, and he or she is later found to be abusing any of those children, you can seek to have his or her rights terminated. This holds true regardless of whether he or she has permanent or temporary custody of your kids.

Perhaps you are not seeking to protect your own children from an abusive parent, but rather those of a deceased family member or friend. If his or her spouse was found either criminally or civilly responsible for his or her death, then the surviving spouse’s parental rights may also be terminated.

More information on protecting yourself and/or your kids from domestic violence can be found here on our site.