(CN) – A ban on “overnight paramours” was not required in a divorced couple’s parenting plan, the Tennessee Court of Appeals found. The provision barred the ex-wife’s lesbian partner from staying in the same house with the couple’s daughter.
Angel Barker and Joseph Chandler were married for six years and had two children. Barker filed for divorce after Chandler had an affair with a woman whom he later married. Barker began a relationship with a same-sex partner.
The original parenting plan called for the son to live with Chandler and the daughter with Barker. The plan called for regular visitation with the other parent, and was later modified to give Barker primary custody of both children. Chandler had custody of both children from 2002 to 2007.
Neither parenting plan included restrictions on overnight guests. Both parents moved to modify the plan in 2007.
Barker objected to the trial court’s inclusion of the locally required paramour provision in the new parenting plan, preventing her girlfriend from sleeping in the same house as her daughter.
Overturning the trial court’s ruling, Judge Holly Kirby stressed that the plan should reflect the best interests of the children.
“The trial court stated that it included the paramour provision in the parties’ permanent parenting plan only because it was constrained to do so under Tennessee law … this conclusion was erroneous,” Kirby ruled.
Kirby clarified that she was not ruling whether the daughter’s best interest would be served by staying in the same home with her mother’s girlfriend.
“We only hold that the trial court was not required to include the paramour provision in the permanent parenting plan,” Kirby wrote.
She sent the case back to the trial court for reconsideration of Barker’s claims that the provision can be severed, and that her constitutional rights would be violated if it is not eliminated.