Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tennessee moves to have shared custody in divorces

Today I came across a newspaper article in USAToday that talked about a Tennessee bill that would evenly split custody in contentious divorce cases. My initial thoughts were this is great! Perhaps one state is listening to parents who are being wrongfully withheld parenting time with their children. I thought perhaps that parental alienation had been broached with these legislators and they were doing something positive in custody cases. As I read the article and took a look at the bill myself, I saw many obstacles and wording that, I thought, left a lot to be misunderstood or open to differing opinions by the judges. The more I read it, the more I could see a severe alienating parent using this bill to their advantage.

This is how HB 2916 reads:

By Bell
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 36,
Chapter 6, Part 1, relative to equal parenting.
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 36-6-101, is amended by deleting
subdivision (a)(2)(A)(i) in its entirety and substituting instead the following:
(i) Except as provided in this subdivision (a)(2)(A), the court shall have the widest
discretion to order a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. At any
hearing to determine custody of a minor child, the court shall order that the child get
equal time with each of the child's parents unless the court finds by clear and convincing
evidence that one (1) or both of the parents are unfit to care for the child. This section
shall not be construed to prohibit both fit parents from voluntarily entering into a
parenting plan that does not give the child equal time with each parent. This section
shall not be construed to prohibit the court from giving the child less than equal time with
a parent that does not seek equal time with the child. For the purpose of assisting the
court in making a custody determination when a parent has been proven to be unfit, the
court may direct that an investigation be conducted.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2010, the public welfare requiring it.

Of course I noticed the words "best interests of the children" mentioned in this bill and most states have a "best interests of the children" doctrine, but fail to follow it.

I think shared custody, in it's theory, is the best possible solution for children, but unfortunately the model is flawed. I believe in only a handful of cases, that shared custody would actually work and could have a positive affect on the children. These cases would be the ones were the two parents part ways, but place the well being of their children above their own and get on with their own lives without involving the children in games. Unfortunately this does not happen often enough. Children become a bargaining chip in divorce, along with material possessions to divide.

In an ideal model, children would be allowed to live in the same home they have been raised in and attend the school they have attended for years. The friendships they have made would not be broken because they have to move or change schools. The parents would live in the same town, so they could attend school functions, help with homework or take the child for a special treat after school, such as the park or the movies. Perhaps one parent works later into the evening and the other parent does not. The child could spend time with both parents on a daily basis, by always having a parent available after school. What could result from that is that parents would make the most of their time with their children and the children may actually get more and better quality time with both parents.

In this bill it states: "the court shall order that the child get
equal time with each of the child's parents unless the court finds by clear and convincing
evidence that one (1) or both of the parents are unfit to care for the child." and "For the purpose of assisting the
court in making a custody determination when a parent has been proven to be unfit, the
court may direct that an investigation be conducted."
In cases of parental alienation, false allegations of abuse are made more often than not. Allegations of drug and alcohol abuse are also made. These are the things that can deem a parent unfit and to lose their parenting rights. The second statement is very backwards though. For the purpose of assisting the court in making a custody determination when a parent has been proven to be unfit, the court may direct an investigation be conducted. Let me ask you....how did the court determine that a parent was unfit without an investigation? If a parent is deemed unfit based on false allegations, then this bill only fails the children that it claims it wants to protect.

I found this quote about false accusations and find that it is so true. When one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamor.

Shared custody would be in the best interests of the children. The children did not divorce their parents, but they are the ones that loses a parent who loves them. Shared custody could work, if the two divorcing parents could be adults and actually place their children first.

What are your thoughts?

Parental Alienation is ABUSE! STOP THE ABUSE!


  1. http://www.facebook.com/pages/DADS-of-Tennessee/366276263080?v=wall&ref=nf A universal shared equal parenting law would prevent scorned women from preventing fathers from equal parenting time. This is why laws like HB2916 & SB2881 must be passed. 50-50 must be the starting point...Women do not own the children. The problem is, most women are not reasonable, especially when they see their CS pay check go out the door to daddy's house. They want the money more than they want their children to have a father...it's sad, but true. Please join us in the this fight for equality, share your stories and let's work together to change the TN laws!

  2. If it's not written into law that the parenting time will be equal, it never will be in TN or any other state. If the judge has discretion, they will give custody to the mother 95% of the time. TN requires mediation before divorce and the parenting plan is used as a negotiating tool time and time again, and here's the tricky part, it's not the parent doing it, it's the attorneys. That gives the mother the opportunity to bend the father over the barrel in the property settlement by using the kids as a bargaining chip, without the issue of guilt. The Constitution of this country guarantees equal protections under the law. That applies to fathers as well, like it or not.

  3. I can understand how many people would like to victimize the father, in most cases women are scorned and lash out. However, in my case, this is the complete opposite. My child's father was physically and emotionally abusive, and once I left I thought that would be the end of it. He has used my son (7 years after I left) to hold me hostage. I finally went to court to get a restraining order and told the judge everything that happened. I was awarded sole custody and he had visitations. BIG mistake. He has taken me to court, through out my second pregnancy for custody. He told our son about the court procedures, he convinced him I did not love him, and my child started to act up in school and cry on a dime. It was heart wrenching, and I fought for my son to show what what was going on. But he paid $10,000 for a lawyer that played him as the victim, and some how, even though I was engaged and pregnant and have clearly moved on with my life, I was keeping him away. By the grace of God, he lost his lawyer and dismissed the case, 1 month before trial. After that, he did not see his son as scheduled for a year. After I got married, he started back up, and now I am headed to court to continue with this madness! Like I said, I can see where some women are at fault, but think about the fathers who were and still are abusive to their childrens' mothers and use the child to torment them. This bill, if given to this guy with his fancy lawyer, might as well kill my child.

  4. I have been in litigation since 2000 to simply be a part of son's life. I have over 400 days of lack of visitation years of calls being unanswered 5 plus Orders that are not followed by the custodial parent..I have been assaulted when taking son to doctor when sick. I am now trying for custody of my son but the delays of the other who hasd emoployed more than 5 different lawyers continues. I have gone bankrupt. I have each place of employment poisoned by the montra of dead nbeat dad even when i can prove that my payments are current..I have on three different occasions been brought on contempt due to lack of payment when payment was found to have been actually refused.. I love my son I want to see my son and I know these acts are acts of abuse against my son due to the fact that half of his genome is mine his Fathers his true blood. Of course the option time and again have been offered to deny my rights so the New loving caring and usually abusive man to me can be his father...reason he has money and i do not.
    Oh and lets not forget the costs of litigation taking from my sons financial benefits $15,198.00
    I have been investigated by two states Child services to their exhaustion to no act found she has moved twice on and on and on. :-(

  5. Here is my personal experience with Parental Alienation. Warning, strong language. I'd be interested in any feedback. I hope this video helps other people in similar situations. Thanks.


  6. If they were unmarried and father moved to Florida with minimal visits on his part, why should he get shared custody??