Child Custody Proposal: No Eavesdropping and No Badmouthing Your Ex.

Feb 25, 2014

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Tennessee Legislators are on the verge of passing extensive revisions to state law governing how courts decide child custody following divorce and the rights of non-custodial parents.

Bill 1488, sponsored by Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, was approved by the upper chamber Monday. Bell says the bill’s language was recommended to him by the Tennessee Bar Association and is intended to reconcile conflicting language in previous measures.  

“This bill is literally a cleanup bill to make the code consistent throughout dealing with child custody and child disputes in court.”

The wording of the bill runs several pages in length and goes into surprising detail. For example, custodial parent would not be allowed to stay in the room when a child is talking by phone with the non-custodial parent.  Another provision would make it illegal for one parent to make derogatory comments about the other parent.

Attorney Michelle Blaylock-Howser practices family law in Murfreesboro. She believes that some of the bill’s provisions are unenforceable, and fails to address more important issues.

“There are so many areas of the law right now that need to be revised, and unfortunately when we spend our efforts on provisions that are simply not enforceable it does nothing to enhance the judicial system when it comes to families that are going through these very difficult situations of custody and relocation.”

Senator Bell and Attorney Blaylock-Howser do agree on one thing…the children of divorce must come first. Blaylock-Howser says the best approach is for divorced parents to treat their relationship going forward like a business.

“Two parents are in the business of raising a child, hoping that it becomes a health, happy productive citizen of society. And the way you do that is that you always look to the best interests of the child.”

The companion bill to Senator Bell’s measure was approved last week by the House Civil Justice Committee and is waiting to be schedule for a final vote on the House floor.