Devastation of the Tennessee Family
Tennessee's divorce rate tops that of most states. Women initiate two-thirds of Tennessee divorces. One important factor is our judges continue sending the same old message: Moms, come on down and file today. I will award you the children. The dad is reduced to a visitor, a second class citizen, and slave of the destructive divorce industry. Dad, you lose your fight for equal parenting and equal custody regardless of the circumstances. Extended family members lose opportunities with the child also.
Tennessee judges routinely strip away fundamental parenting rights from fit parents using wide discretion and the broadest interpretation of the laws. Our Constitutions require they use due process and strict scrutiny, whereby substantial harm to the child would have to be proven first. Children become chattel of the courts in custody cases.
Our judges can honor a parent's request for equal parenting under current laws and ensure that a child's needs are met. Instead, they prevent one fit parent (and thus one of the extended families) from having equal opportunity for giving the child the love, security, and resources necessary for the child to fulfill his/her dreams and develop talents and skills essential for becoming a well-rounded, self-confident adult.
Our judges impose parenting schedules commonly having seven to 12 day periods in which the child has severely limited contact with the non-custodial parent. They continue ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence that a child needs frequent residential time with both parents for maximum emotional stability. They also subjectively overemphasize the continuity of a child living in one home.
Our judges grossly misuse a "primary caregiver" factor in custody determinations, harshly penalizing the fully employed parent who had enabled the other parent increased opportunity with the child. They also continue using gender bias even though the tender years doctrine was abolished by statute in 1997. So, while our judges state in their trial rulings that neither parent should lose time with the child, they almost always give one parent much greater time with the child.
Good luck finding an attorney who will argue constitutional protections of your parenting rights. The wealthy divorce industry is content with status quo and is resisting positive reform in family laws. Therefore, we must compel the legislature to enact an appropriate child custody statute that will discourage divorce and preserve the basic family rights of children and fit parents. If changes are not enacted, devastation of the Tennessee family will continue in our courts.
Stephen C. Arnold