Some days I really wonder if we aren't all extras in state Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. G.A. Hardaway's private buddy movie, where they're working together to work out their issues with marriage and kids. If you look at all of their legislation revolving around domestic violence and child custody and support as a whole, a couple of things become clear.
First, should any Tennessee woman get pregnant if she's involved with even a remotely sketchy man, it's practically in her best interest to break it off with him, have the baby without his knowledge, and leave his name off the birth certificate. (For instance, the piece of legislation we talked about the other day? Would also give the father the right to decide the last name of a child if there's a dispute between parents about whose last name the kid should have. Rapists should enjoy that.)
And, whoa boy, if you're a man who's married and had some kids with a sketchy woman? You are screwed in your abilities to protect those kids from your wife as you try to extricate her from your lives. If the Dynamic Duo get their way, she'll be able to harass you on the phone for an hour before you can get a restraining order, while the courts have to assume that she should get joint custody. And if she stalks you, maybe threatens your new girlfriend, and you have to get a restraining order to protect you from her increasingly nutty behavior? The courts wouldn't be able to use the restraining order as evidence of a need to change the custody arrangement.
But the "best" piece of legislation from Campfield so far this session has got to be SB 0123, which lets the person paying for supervised visitations pick out who gets to supervise the visitations. Just think about this a second. The person paying for supervised visitations is almost always the parent who needs to be supervised.
In Tennessee, the state law (36-6-301) provides pretty strict guidelines under which supervised visitation can be called for — "If the court finds that the non-custodial parent has physically or emotionally abused the child, the court may require that visitation be supervised or prohibited until such abuse has ceased or until there is no reasonable likelihood that such abuse will recur."
So Campfield wants to write into law that the parent who has been found by the court to have physically or emotionally abused the child should get to pick out who watches him or her with the child.
Well, I'm sure nothing could possibly go wrong there.