The National Parents Organization is a 501(3)(c) dedicated to promoting shared parenting throughout the country. Every year, the organization issues a Report Card that assesses the states’ laws as they relate to parenting plans in child custody. In the group’s 2014 Report Card, issued this November, Tennessee and 22 other states earned a “D.”
The report lists a number of reasons why Tennessee earned such a poor grade. Their website says:
- “Tennessee has no statutory preference for, or presumption of, shared parenting (joint legal custody and shared physical custody) for temporary or final orders. Indeed, Tennessee statutes explicitly reject any such preference or presumption: TENN. CODE ANN. § 36-6-101.” (It is only when the parents agree to joint custody that Tennessee presumes that joint custody is in the child’s best interest.)
- “Tennessee statutes do not explicitly provide for shared parenting during either temporary or final orders.”
- “Tennessee statute does not contain any policy statement or other language encouraging shared parenting.”
The point of the report card is not to grade how parents in Tennessee handle shared parenting plans, but to analyze and dissect the state’s statutes by how strong or how clear the rules are. This can make it more difficult for parents to have access to their children, and could potentially foster parental inequality.
The National Parents Organization does list some positives as well, including changes to statutes that now make it simpler for a noncustodial parent to gain access to his or her child’s medical and school records, and provisions that make it easier for noncustodial parents to communicate with their children through email and telephone calls.
Because we work with parents seeking to develop shared parenting plans, we understand why the National Parents Organization would rank Tennessee’s statutes so poorly. In our experience, collaboration between both parents is a crucial part of developing a plan that is in the children’s best interests; in this way, divorcing parents can pick up where the laws leave off.
If you need help developing a shared parenting plan or if you feel that your current plan needs to be modified, please contact the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates to discuss your needs with an experienced child custody lawyer.