How do we change custody when domestic violence is involved?

Question:

The mother of my fiance’s 8 year old daughter wants to live with us. The mother is violent to her boyfriends and has the cops called to her residence frequently. The mother always leaves the child with neighbors or family members. We have officers who can testify to the types of calls they receive from the residence. We would like to go to court and try to prove Substantial Change In Circumstances. The mother has had to visit a mental facility to evaluate her. She is unstable and has threatened us repatedly to keep the child from us on the weekends. What can we do to help our case?

Answer:

I am not licensed in the State of Tenn and therefore cannot answer your question specifically to the laws of that State. The police involvement solves one of the more difficult aspects of many domestic relations cases: proof. Often the important evidence in family law occurs behind closed doors and the case hinges on “he said against she said” testimony. If you have neutral third parties that have documented incidents and can prove your case, you are in a very good position. Get the police records and mental health records (if possible) of the mother. Find out the name of the boyfriends that have been involved in the disturbances as they may be willing to testify against the mother. The final element that you will want to show is how the mother’s actions in the home have harmed the child. Look at school records and consider retaining a psychological expert to test and interview the child.
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