On April 3, 2018, the TN legislature officially passed House Bill 2033, which allows victims of domestic abuse to request a court grant access to the victim’s cell phone plan, even if they are not the account holder.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Coley, allows a victim of domestic violence to ask that the issuing court direct that the victim’s phone company transfer billing responsibility and account rights to the victim when that victim is not the account holder. The victim may ask for such an order when initially seeking an Order of Protection or when making a separate request of the court.
If granted, the Court will order the victim’s phone service provider to transfer account responsibility to the victim of the victim’s phone number and the phone numbers of any minor children in the victim’s care. Once transferred, the victim gains all rights of the account holder, but is responsible for the payment of the account.
Presumably the legislature’s intent in enacting this law was to enable victims of domestic violence to gain control over their cell phone accounts, when the alleged abuser is the primary account holder. The law should also help domestic violence victims by making it easier for such victim to cancel an existing phone number and get a new phone number to prevent unwanted contact from the abuser.
The bill passed unanimously in the House of Representatives this week. The bill had previously passed unanimously in the Senate in February.
According to 2016 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation statistics, 78,100 domestic violence incidents were reported to Tennessee law enforcement agencies during the preceding year. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have options. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233 or your local law enforcement agency.
If you seek legal representation regarding divorce or child custody in conjunction with a domestic violence matter, contact the attorneys of Kane & Crowell Family Law Center at (615) 784-4800.