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Proposed law would change child custody cases in Tennessee

Family law is a lot like some families. It is large, complicated and changes with the times. No one ever gets married or has children expecting to have to fight over them, but emotions and preferences can get stretched if a family has to work out where children live and how they are raised with separate parents.

Of course, the people who suffer the most in these dealings are children, who can feel pitted against parents and subject to decisions they cannot understand or control. This is one of the reasons that family court judges in Tennessee and other states have the mandate to decide what is best for the child in question.

A proposed new law in Nashville may increase judges' power to rule in these interests. Proponents of the bills are hoping it may challenge some assumptions about the best environments and decision-makers for children. The law would give judges very wide discretion in ordering custody arrangements.

"Shared parenting is where we should start. 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," according to the senator sponsoring the bill.

Parents always have the right to petition the court for full or joint custody, especially if new evidence or behaviors suggest a child may be better off with a new arrangement. An attorney can be an excellent consultant on how to approach child custody and help prepare and present a case.

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