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Child-custody issues during divorce prove traumatic

More often than not, child-custody disputes and issues related to visitation rights can be traumatic for couples during divorce proceedings in Tennessee, Kentucky or elsewhere. For one man currently undergoing divorce proceedings, it portends devastation. His first child from a previous union disappeared while at elementary school more than 3 years ago.Now the distraught father could lose child custody of his daughter from his estranged wife.

Times are equally traumatic for the estranged wife, the last person to see her stepson before he disappeared in June 2010. At the time, she was neither a suspect nor had she faced criminal charges. However, according to published reports, the wife's lawyers now fear that law enforcement issues could "contaminate" the psychological evaluation process and prevent the biological mother of the little girl from getting child custody.

The psychologist appointed to evaluate the couple said he needed time to wrap up investigations and the judge set a date for full custodial hearings to accommodate him. The judge also said the psychologist will be told to ignore any information made public, if law enforcement issues came up during the hearings.

In the preliminary hearings, lawyers from both sides argued about issues of child support, the statutory psychological evaluation and the role of the district attorney. The DA's office comes into play under a 1975 federal law that requires each state to provide child support programs.

The Tennessee Department of Health Services cannot handle matters unrelated to child support such as divorce, visitation or custody disputes, but it can establish and enforce court orders for child support payments, unpaid medical bills or medical insurance issues. The psychological evaluation process becomes critical in custody disputes because the judge must bear in mind the best interests of the child. Under Tennessee statutes, for instance, a judge will consider factors such as the mental and physical health of a parent and any history of physical or mental abuse. The child's preference will also be weighed.

Child custody and visitation issues can be complicated. Any parent involved in divorce should seek advice and counsel from a legal professional in order to maintain quality parenting time.

Source: katu.com, "Terri Horman wants temporary parenting time and support," Colin Miner, Nov. 8, 2013

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