Flickr: Photo by mrbill
Custody battles could be out the window in Tennessee if a bill proposing equal time spent with both parents goes through.
But is a one-size-fits-all approach really the best fit for all families?
The proposal itself is nothing if not simple. Divorced couples would get equal time with their kids. Period. The only exception is in cases where one parent can be proven truly unfit.
At the outset, it's hard to disagree with words like "equal." No one wants to say one parent has more rights to kids than the other.
But delve deeper, and there are a host of logistics that make this proposal too pat an answer. Let's face, for example, the situation of a child whose parents live in two different school districts. Whether it's one town away or one hour away, exactly equal time would require the kids spend part of a week or every other week in one parents' household, the other with the second parent.
They can't well go to two schools at once, so we're suggesting the kids then travel what could be a significant distance to get to school?
The bill's proponents tell the Tennessean that idea is a scare tactic, that courts can force parents to live near one another. Somehow that doesn't sound like a much better idea.
When a close friend got divorced, she escaped the state she'd been living in because of said husband -- and yes, she took the kids. It wasn't to deny them their father, but to escape an oppressive situation with few economic choices. It worked. She has a better job, a home where she doesn't have to worry about her kids' yard toys being stolen and happy, healthy kids.
Custody situations aren't always about who is fit to care for kids and who isn't. They're about who works long hours and who doesn't. They're about kids who have special needs and need structure.
They're about that family, not every family.
The family court system as it stands isn't perfect, and many divorced parents can attest to that. But is this proposal a little too perfect?
Should judges retain the right to decide?