Bill would create equal child custody in Tennessee

By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A bill on the table in the Tennessee Legislature would split up child custody in divorced buy prescription drugs online without prescription families equally.

Many advocacy groups and attorneys have gotten involved.

Knoxville family attorney Danny Garland says a one size-fits all solution is not the way to go when solving a child custody battle.

A 50-50 custody split is not always the best answer either, Garland says.

“It’s better to go to mediation because people will have a settlement they helped craft. It works for the peculiarities in their life. Nobody’s life is standard,” Garland explains.

However, the mediation process would take a back seat across the state if the bill, HB2916, is passed.

One section reads: “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 or both of the parents are unfit to care for the child.”

“I know there is a problem,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) in a March 9 session.

Advocates of the legislation say fathers, time and time again, aren’t given a fair shot in courtrooms.

“There is so much parent alienation,” says Charlotte Jeffries. She not only supports the bill, she became a member of a local father’s rights organization after the issue hit close to home.

Her son has been involved in an ongoing custody battle. “He’s Sgt. Frank D. Jeffries.”

Jeffries says her son feels like a visitor in his daughter’s life. “He came back from Iraq after 15 months, and he wasn’t allowed to see his child.”

Danny Garland says getting fathers an equal voice can be tough in some courtrooms, but in general, times have changed.

“When I started practicing, the standard advice to clients was, unless you can prove her unfit, the woman’s probably going to get custody. That’s not true now,” Garland says.

Along with several women’s and father’s groups, representatives with the Tennessee Bar Association are in Nashville getting involved.

6 News spoke with Tennessee Bar Association Executive Director Allan Ramsaur by phone on Tuesday.

“The bill creates a presumption of 50-50 parenting time unless you prove the other parent is unfit by a very high standard, clear and convincing evidence, a similar standard used to terminate a parent’s rights,” Ramsaur says.

He hopes the bill won’t become law.

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