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70 Tenn. L. Rev. 221 (2002-2003)
Solomon's New Sword: Tennessee's Parenting Plan, the Roles of Attorneys, and the Care Perspective

handle is hein.journals/tenn70 and id is 237 raw text is: SOLOMON'S NEW SWORD: TENNESSEE'S
Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son
is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son
is the living. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a
sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two,
and give half to the one, and half to the other.
1 Kings 3:23-25
In the biblical story, Solomon used his sword to resolve a dispute
regarding custody of a child. King Solomon believed that a true parent would
surrender her rights in the best interests of the child. Today the majority of
custody disputes are between two parents who are divorcing, not between a
parent and a stranger. Instead of using a sword, Tennessee uses parenting
plans to ensure that custody-and a host of other issues-is in the best
interests of a minor whose parents are divorcing. Tennessee requires every
divorcing couple with a minor child to produce a parenting plan that addresses
various aspects of child care and decision-making.' In connection with
disputes that arise between divorcing parents in producing such a plan,
Tennessee allows court-ordered alternative dispute resolution (hereinafter
ADR) pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 31 (hereinafter Rule 31).' Under
this arrangement, mediation quickly becomes the preferred model of ADR.a
Part I of this Comment describes the purpose, goals, structure, and application
of the Parenting Plan Act (hereinafter the Act). Part i evaluates the
effectiveness of the Act to realize its own stated purpose and goals. The
Comment pays particular attention to application of the best interests of the
child standard and to the roles that lawyers play in parenting plan mediation
under Rule 31 and under the new Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct
(hereinafter Tennessee Rules).' Part III proposes clarification of and
1. See TENN. CODE ANN. § 36-6-404 (2001).
2. See id. (c)(2).
3. Various Tennessee judicial districts either encourage or require mediation in divorce
actions generally or in disputes under the Parenting Plan Act specifically. See, e.g., 2D TENN.
JUD. DIST. R. 16(D); 6TH TENN. JUD. DIST. R. 28; 9THTENN. JUD. DIST. App. C § 5; 12TH TENN.
JUD. DIST. R. 29.04(E); 21 ST JUD. DIST. R. 12.02(b).
4. On August 27, 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Tennessee Supreme
Court Rule 8 and the Tennessee Code of Professional Responsibility by adopting the Tennessee
Rules of Professional Conduct as proposed by the Tennessee Bar Association. The Tennessee
Rules track the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct (hereinafter
Model Rule(s)), save some revisions that comport with current Tennessee case law. See In
Re: Tenn. Rules of Prof'l Conduct, No. M2000-02416-SC-RL-RL (Tenn. filed Sept. 17,2002).

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