I would like to sue the state of Tennessee in FEDERAL court for violating my FEDERAL Constitutional rights in family court.

Asked 12 months ago - Nashville, TN

I am a FATHER, and this is regarding state family law regarding divorce. My Federal Constitutional 14th Amendment right to 'equal protection under the law' has been completely violated by Tennessee's laws regarding family law (divorce). I do not want to sue for money. I want to sue in Federal court to have one or more of Tennessee's laws deemed UNconstitutional by the Federal court system. We have a Federal court in Nashville, TN where I am located. As you are keenly aware, regarding family law (divorce) Father's and children's Constitutional rights are violated by state laws DAILY across the U.S.. ALL family members should be treated EQUALLY under the law. Women are shown favoritism. Can I do this and does anyone know of anyone who COULD DO THIS for me here in Nashville, TN?Thx

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Andrew Michael Bonderud

    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You would need more than a general allegation of unfairness. Any other details?

    Andrew M. Bonderud, Esq. is an attorney with The Bonderud Law Firm, P.A. He offers free consultations 24/7.... more
  2. Vance Tate Davis

    Contributor Level 16


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Consult with a civil rights attorney if you really want to proceed with this proposed suit, however I think you should take a step back here. From the comments as well as the question, I see no constitutional argument here and yes, TN like every other state must abide by the equal protection clause. I think the negative response you are getting to your question is indicative of a weak claim and should give you pause. Arguing with the attorneys who are trying to give you a response is not useful. What is useful is to understand that IF you have a claim, then this likely isn't the way that you want to proceed. When three lawyers from diverse backgrounds all say in some way "I see no constitutional violation" that tells you that your child custody case is just that...a child custody case and not something where you are likely to have much luck suing a state government or its judiciary. If you think you got a bad result in a civil custody case, then just see what suing the State of Tennessee does for you because unlike your spouse, the state will have platoons of lawyers to defend and counter your every argument. A judge might very well hit you with a finding that you filed a frivolous suit and make you pay the state for bringing the suit without a good legal basis.

    Again, I don't want to be overly critical but you need to accept the response and reception that your question has received here. Maybe you need to hear it from an attorney who is an expert in civil rights and constitutional law and if so, then by all means, consult with an attorney in that field. But I think the responses you have already received accurately state the law applicable to your question.

    It is impossible to give specific answers to questions without meeting and fully discussing all of the potential... more
  3. Rixon Charles Rafter III

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Couple thoughts:
    No facts in your post indicate you have any grounds to sue--certainly no Constitutional grounds.

    Getting the short end of the stick is NOT sufficient grounds to challenge a court decision. You need LOTS more than that.

    You can expect significant costs (up front) in such an action.

    If you are looking to consult with a Civil Rights attorney recommend you contact your state bar association and ask for a referral or try the avvo 'find a lawyer' tab to locate one near you.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of... more
  4. Douglas J. Callahan

    Contributor Level 4


    Lawyers agree


    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Hello,

    You should type National Family Civil Rights Center in Google.

    In your own words--What was done to you that was different than the way someone else would be treated if similarly situated?

    I am licensed to practise law in the U.S. Supreme Court. I am also an Attorney in good standing with the federal district courts in Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. With my 35 years of experience in federal court, I have a high likelihood of getting special permission to represent a Client in a federal court in TN. As a matter of fact, I am in TN right now-Germantown (near Memphis).

    It is very important that you do not miss the short time periods for an appeal of right. I am not a TN Attorney--just Michigan and federal courts.

    Call me for a conference at no charge (810) 955-5148.

    The NFCRC has a means test to determine if the family member qualifies for free legal representation.

    Based upon the facts as you have stated them, you may have a cause of action in federal court under the exception to the general rule that federal courts do not address domestic relations issues. There would need to be a violation of a Constitutional Right. For example, if the trial court let an expert witness say what someone else has said without the right to cross examination, this could be a violation of due process of law and thus fit under the exception. There is a split in the U.S. Circuit Courts on this issue.

    My long time Friend Ben Ashmore has the above case and it has reached the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. It looked like cert. would be granted by the Suprement Court of the United States (SCOTUS for short). Ben's work phone number is (201) 891-1635.

    Douglas J. Callahan
    Attorney at Law

  5. Christine C McCall


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I've read through your comments in response to other attorneys and have only a few specific points to contribute:

    1. "Equal protection" does not mean "equal treatment," as you seem to have been told. It means "equal treatment" unless there is a legitimate reason for different treatment. All of law in every practice area essentially turns on the challenge of making a principled identification and assessment of circumstances that justify or require different treatment.

    2. Children are not property. They can't be divided equally See, e.g., Solomon's great Biblical moment. No federal or state court in the country will treat seriously any suit that is based on a contention that the best interests of the children -- as determined by a legally-qualified fact-finder in a valid and reliable fact-finding process -- must be subordinated to the principle of parental "share and share alike." That works for the proceeds of the sale of the family home. It does not work for the custody of little human beings. To win in custody matters you have to convince the designated fact-finder that you are the best suited to meet the needs of the kids. Ever it has been; ever it shall be in our culture.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended... more

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