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since June 19, 2001


Tennessee Equal Child-Custody Bill

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:  Tennessee Equal Custody Bill
Date:  Sun, 16 Feb 2003 10:18:16 +0000
From:  "Daniel Lee" <danlee5@hotmail.com>
To:  familyrc@attbi.com

In our General Assembly we have submitted an equal child custody bill.  It guarantees a parent would have primary custody in substantially equal measure with the other, by only having to request it.  The parents would choose the duration and timing of the custody alternations, or failing that the judge would do so.  Depending on the circumstances, alternations could occur in 6-month blocks, yearly, every 2 or 4 years, once prior to the child reaching majority, or any other arrangement which results in an equal outcome.

No reference is made to the division of parenting time, and none is needed as when custody switches, parenting time will also.  This creates the circumstance where when a parent has custody they will be liberal with access to the child, because they will soon be in the same situation.

A safety valve clause is present to prevent the child from being placed in substantial harm.  That is the threshold where the state may intervene into the parent-child relationship.  The bill itself is compliant with constitutional protections for parents and children, and is the likely outcome of a properly argued and decided constitutional challenge.


By Bowers

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 36, relative to child custody.

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 36-6-101(a)(2)(A), is amended by deleting the current language in its entirety, and by substituting the following:

(i) When the parents agree to joint custody, the court shall order joint physical and legal custody, with no custodial parent designated.

(ii) If the parents agree one should have sole custody, the court shall order sole custody to the agreed upon parent.

(iii) If both parents request sole custody for themselves, or one requests sole custody and the other requests joint custody, the court shall order joint physical custody, with legal custody alternating between parents.  When a parent has legal custody, such parent is the custodial parent.

(iv) The court has the widest discretion in setting the timing and duration of legal custody alternations, which shall result in a substantially equal schedule, unless one parent agrees to such parent's schedule being less than equal.

(v) A court may deviate from this part if clear and convincing evidence shows it places a child in substantial harm. For determining a substantially equal custody schedule, this shall include the division of custody from when a court first assumes jurisdiction of a child.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public
welfare requiring it.


Original Source

Daniel Lee
CBI President
ACFC Associate Director
CBI Member


Note: A bill like that has been law in Sweden since 1983 already.  Most likely in consequence of that the male suicide rates in Sweden dropped markedly. —WHS

See also: Family Law — Table of Contents

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Posted 2003 02 04
2003 05 02 (added reference to Family Law — Table of Contents