Changes to Tennessee’s Parental Bill of Rights affect visitation

New changes to Tennessee's Parental Bill of Rights could have consequences for many divorced parents.

Changes create equal rights for both parents following a divorce

Tennessee recently changed its Parental Bill of Rights, which governs the rights parents have when raising and maintaining contact with their children. The changes are especially important for divorced spouses to understand. According to WREG Memphis, the new law essentially means both parents have equal rights when raising a child, regardless of whether one parent has primary custody. The changes primarily affect issues concerning visitation and custody; they will likely have no bearing on child support.

Equal rights

The new law is designed to strengthen co-parenting and ensure that both parents are involved in their child's life and upbringing. The changes largely give more force to the existing Parental Bill of Rights and will clarify issues that arose in previous versions of the law.

For example, one of the most important changes concerns the education of the child. The child's school must now be informed about the non-custodial parent and the non-custodial parent must be given access to the child's school records. The non-custodial parent can also visit the child at school, such as during lunchtime, a right that was not made explicitly clear in the older version of the law.

Consequences of noncompliance

Parents who do not comply with the new rules could face serious consequences. For example, a parent with primary custody of a child who refuses to allow the other parent to attend a parent teacher meeting could be brought before a family court. In essence, the law seeks to ensure that both parents are equally involved in a child's life, meaning trying to deny one parent access to the child could land the offending parent before a judge.

By being brought to court, noncomplying parents also expose themselves to the possibility of being held in contempt of court. Violating court orders could have serious repercussions and could even result in the non-custodial parent fighting the other parent for full custody of the child, according to FOX Memphis. Of course, the law does not necessarily apply to all families and, as always, the child's best interests will be considered foremost by the courts.

Legal advice

This story highlights not only how important it is to make sure parents comply with the law when resolving child custody issues, but that they also understand how the law affects them in the first place. Legal matters can become highly complicated, of course, and parents should always consult with a qualified family law attorney in order to understand their rights and responsibilities under the law.

Keywords: Tennessee, divorce, custody, visitation