House bill would give both parents equal custody of children
Wilky Fain is fighting for equal custody of his 7-year-old daughter and supports the new bill.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When parents seek custody of their children, mothers usually receive more rights than fathers.
Some Tennessee parents are now trying to level the playing field.
Wilky Fain's daughter Addison is seven-years-old. He said it wasn't until eight months after she was born that a judge let him see her.
Fain is also president of the group Families Unite and he made a documentary about his struggle in family court.
"Because of the discretion of a judge," Fain said, "I've never been able to drop my little girl off at school. Because of the discretion of a judge, I've never picked my little girl up at school."
Now, he and other parents are supporting a bill in the state House that would make courts order equal parenting time unless one of those parents is unfit.
This isn't the first time a bill proposing equal custody rights for mothers and fathers will come before the state legislature, but supporters are hoping this is the time that it passes.
David W. Garrett is an attorney who focuses on family law.
Garrett said, "The problem with it is there are many circumstances where it's not in the child's best interest to be with both parents half the time...I think instead of looking at what is best in each case for the children it's going to arbitrarily say 50/50 unless you prove otherwise."
Garrett said according to the experts, children need a stable home, instead of constantly going back and forth.
Fain, who said he still doesn't see his daughter as often as he would like, disagrees.
He said, "It's better to have both parents. Children adapt to their environment... You can burn my house, you can take my car, but why would you take my kids from me?"
A House committee will hear from opponents and supporters of the bill Tuesday.