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Proposed bill would urge courts to grant shared custody in divorce cases

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposed bill making its way through the Tennessee legislature would make it favorable for the courts to grant joint custody in divorce cases.

“Shared parenting is where we should start,” said Senator Mike Bell, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “If the judge decides it’s in the best of interest of the child to go 100 percent one way or 100 percent in the other, the judge still has discretion to do that with the bill.”

The bill would still give the judge discretion when deciding in each individual case.

Walter Richardson with The Tennessee Fathers’ Rights Movement said it is a step in the right direction, especially in a system that he says favors mothers during custody battles.

“The purpose of it is to level the playing field for fathers seeking to spend more time with their children,” he recently told WTVF.

He also said the bill would help children not to be caught in the middle of a nasty divorce proceedings that could last years.

Some groups like the Tennessee Voices for Victims said the bill could potentially hinder abuse victims.

“If they haven’t reported what’s going on the judge has no idea,” Verna Wyatt said. “When you have someone going for a divorce that never called police for any kind of abuse but they’re in a power and control relationship, granting joint custody to the two of them when he’s an abuser can be very dangerous.”

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