Can sexual allegations affect my parenting rights? The answer is yes, they can affect parenting rights. Before you can defend against your criminal charges, the same sexual allegations can result in a civil hearing to reduce or eliminate your parenting time. While the cases below are mostly favorable, a civil case that precedes your criminal one can be tricky strategically, because it is sworn testimony that can be used against your in your future criminal case.
In short, you don’t want to be so aggressive in trying to maintain your parenting time that you submit to psychiatric evaluations and rigorous cross-examination for your spouse’s attorney. It may be that you have to lose or suspend parenting time until the allegations are later determined to be false, and then you can later bring a civil suit against the spouse for making these baseless allegations to get a leg up in a civil proceeding.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-301. Visitation
After making an award of custody, the court shall, upon request of the non-custodial parent, grant such rights of visitation as will enable the child and the non-custodial parent to maintain a parent-child relationship unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health.
In granting any such rights of visitation, the court shall designate in which parent’s home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations and other special occasions.
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.
The court may not order the department of children’s services to provide supervision of visitation pursuant to this section except in cases where the department is the petitioner or intervening petitioner in a case in which the custody or guardianship of a child is at issue.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-301. Cases
Trial court did not abuse its discretion in suspending all of a mother’s parenting time with the parties’ twelve-year-old son until she sought mental health treatment because the mother coerced the son into making horrific sexual abuse allegations against the father and, despite there being no evidence of abuse, the mother remained convinced the abuse occurred and was unable to conform her conduct to the court’s orders; the father was the primary residential parent. F.A.B. v. D.L.B., — S.W.3d –, 2013 Tenn. App. LEXIS 707 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2013).
Trial court did not err under T.C.A. § 36-6-301 in requiring supervised visitation for the wife due to the wife’s instability, mental health issues, abusive use of litigation to create conflict, refusal to promote a relationship between the children and their father, and attempt to remove the children from the jurisdiction. Such factors were adverse to the best interests of the children and supported supervision of her parenting time. Further, the record supported a conclusion that unsupervised parenting time would jeopardize the children physically and emotionally. Malmquist v. Malmquist, — S.W.3d –, 2011 Tenn. App. LEXIS 144 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2011).
High standard under T.C.A. § 36-6-301 for the adoption of a parenting arrangement with no parenting time for a father was met where the father exhibited domineering and abusive conduct towards the mother and the son and demonstrated no self-awareness of the damage resulting from his conduct. Winkler v. Winkler, — S.W.3d –, 2011 Tenn. App. LEXIS 583 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2011).
When mother and father were designated joint primary residential parents with equal parenting time, trial court did not err by denying mother’s petition to change custody due to baseless child sexual abuse allegations against the father, as medical examination of the child showed no signs of sexual abuse; court of appeals upheld trial court’s decision to reduce her parenting time, but found that imposition of restrictions on mother’s visitation under T.C.A. § 36-6-301 due to her false allegations was not warranted, as there was no suggestion that mother would physically harm the children. In re A.N.F., — S.W.3d –, 2008 Tenn. App. LEXIS 554 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 24, 2008).
Provision of visitation decree requiring husband to enroll in programs of anger management and parenting skills and a program with a psychiatrist, subject to the approval of a guardian ad litem, was unduly restrictive. Whitaker v. Whitaker, 957 S.W.2d 834, 1997 Tenn. App. LEXIS 266 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1028, 118 S. Ct. 1316, 140 L. Ed. 2d 480, 1998 U.S. LEXIS 1960 (1998).