In 2019, state legislators in Tennessee introduced a bill that would create a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is in a child’s interest when making arrangements during a divorce. According to the state General Assembly, the bill failed due to withdrawal in February 2019. For now, Tennessee’s laws regarding child custody remain unchanged.
Although there is nothing in the current law preventing the court from ordering near-equal parenting time, it must nevertheless choose one parent to be the “primary residential parent.” However, the laws of many states now make a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is in the child’s interest. Even where there is not a presumption, there may be a preference for joint custody in the courts. According to Pace University, this could mean a fairer outcome for same-sex couples who are also parents when they divorce.
Manipulative behavior by the biological parent
Although a same-sex couple may adopt a child together with no biological relation to either parent, it is also common for the child to be the biological child of only one spouse. When the parents split up, the biological spouse may engage in manipulative behavior against the other in child custody negotiations, putting the nonbiological parent in a more vulnerable position.
Rights of the nonbiological parent
As a matter of law, a biological connection to the child should not make any difference in custody or visitation determinations. A legal presumption that joint custody is in the child’s interest could put nonbiological parents in a better position to assert and defend their rights during the process of determining custody of the child.