Can you get out of a marital dissolution agreement once it’s been signed by both parties? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This post is about what happened when a husband tried to stop a divorce on the day of the final hearing.
Normally when you own a house or other major asset prior to a marriage, that property will remain your separate property. However, there are some exceptions. If you’re not careful (and sometimes even if you are careful) what was “yours” might become “ours”.
The definition of “standard parenting” has finally been revised as part of the new Tennessee Child Support Guidelines.
Yes, the Tennessee courts are open and if you are in a domestic violence situation you can still obtain an order of protection during the corvid-19 pandemic. Here’s how.
You can still get a divorce or have parenting time with your children during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how to get started.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently considered a case where a father was ordered by a Trial Court to pay for private school tuition for a school he didn’t want his daughter to attend, at double the cost of the school where he thought the child should be enrolled.
Starting July 1st, 2017, a new law in Tennessee says that a judgment for unpaid child support can not go back farther than five years of missed payments. Child support arrearages limited Why would the legislature do this? Shouldn't deadbeat dads be required to...
Last year I wrote a post about Sabrina and Erica Witt (link removed), who were two women involved in a same-sex divorce in Knoxville. The problem with their case was one of the two had given birth to a child via artificial insemination, and since the Tennessee...
Tennessee passed a new law that eliminates interest on judgments for missed child support payments. Will this make things better? Maybe…..
The Tennessee Supreme Court recently made a significant change to Tennessee Law that will make it easier for one parent to move the kids away from the other parent.
Anybody who’s watched any law-based TV shows has heard the term “hearsay”. What is hearsay evidence, really?
A Family Argument Consider the following scenario: You're a husband. You have a wife to whom you've been married about 10 years. You have two young children with your wife and you all live together. You're living the American dream, but only by stretching your...
Domestic Violence is a serious problem in Tennessee, just as it is all over the United States. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, in 2015 there were 77,726 domestic assaults reported in Tennessee. Of those, 11,297 involved an aggravated assault,...
This is a very simplified summary of Orders of Protection. A complete description would require a lot more space and honestly would be a lot more than a normal person wants to read. First: Seek Help If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should seek help from...
When you are working your way through your divorce, you might come to a settlement with your spouse and sign a marital dissolution agreement (as well as a parenting plan if you have children). Once the parties sign the marital dissolution agreement (or "MDA"), you've...
I was made aware of the case of Sabrina Renae Witt vs. Erica Christine Witt recently. This is a situation involving a same-sex marriage between two women, one of whom gave birth to a child via artificial insemination. The couple planned to raise the child together...
Your lawyer can do a lot for you. There are also a lot of things your lawyer CAN’T do for you. Here are some of them.
This is a list of the things your lawyer can or should do for you while helping you solve your situation.
I get a lot of emails from a parent who wants to terminate the rights of the other parent of their child. It’s almost always a mother wanting to terminate the parental rights of the father. Most often, I have to tell people that they simply cannot do what they want. Here’s why.
There are several new laws coming into effect in Tennessee that may be of interest to people involved in divorce, custody, or child support cases. SB101 / HB90 Forgiving accrued principal and interest on child support. Previously, child support was a...
This case shows why it's important to have someone help you negotiate your marital dissolution agreement, or at the very least make sure you've read it and understand the terms before the divorce is final. Background In October 2010, a husband informed his wife that...
A few days ago, Forbes published an article called "The 7 Worst States To Get Divorced". The author, Bruce Provda, ranked states based on: cost of filing, minimum separation period, length of residency required, waiting period, and minimum number of days for entire...
This case is about how a prenuptial agreement can come back to haunt you if you don't carefully abide by all of its provisions. Husband and Wife were married in 2006. At the time the parties were married, Wife had a large trust fund, which she wanted to keep as...
This case struck me as odd because the father really wanted equal parenting time with his kids, but the trial court only gave him 91 days per year. When he complained, the Appellate Court suggested that he not worry about it because even though the trial court only...
Several important new laws concerning divorce and custody were just put into effect on July 1st. Some are more important than others, but family law attorneys in Tennessee need to be aware of the changes and possibly working additional language into new parenting...
While the divorce was pending, the parties in this case agreed on terms of a marital dissolution agreement which settled all of the issues in their case. One of the terms required the husband to pay alimony to the wife according to the following language: The Husband...
A Tennessee Appellate Court rules that a wife is entitled to alimony in futuro instead of transitional alimony in this Nashville Divorce.
In the last legislative session, our lawmakers decided to clarify the factors that Tennessee family courts must consider when developing parenting schedules for parents of minor children. The lawmakers state in the bill that the prior factors caused "confusion and...
Wife is to receive $115,000 from husband’s retirement fund in exchange for some of the marital property. Should she have to pay the taxes on that money, or should the husband pay the taxes?
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is usually shortened to “QDRO”, is an order of a court that instructs the manager of a retirement plan to set aside and pay a portion of the funds to an alternate payee.
What happens if you’re paying child support through Child Support Services of Tennessee and you discover that they have taken too much of your money? It used to be that the State would say that you’ve just made an involuntary gift to the other parent, and you should be happy for the opportunity. Fortunately, the courts have finally introduced some sanity into the situation.
In Tennessee, a person’s parental rights can be terminated if the parent fails to visit or support the children. These cases are very serious and this case summary is a pretty good example of how a court handles this issue.
When a court divides the assets and debts of a couple as part of a divorce, the court must normally rely on values of the assets that are supplied by the parties. With some assets, such as bank accounts and credit cards, the balances should be easy to determine. However, sometimes people try to hide money in order to deceive the court and gain an advantage
A Tennessee Court of Appeals modifies an alimony award because the husband had recently had a reduction in his income and the wife had the potential to support herself without additional education or training.
Several new laws which effect divorce and custody cases take effect today. I’ll post a brief summary of the most important bills.
Making recordings of a telephone calls between children and the other parent may seem like a good idea, but is it legal? Can the recordings be used at a divorce or custody hearing? Could you be arrested for making these recordings? The answer (as is common in...
If you are a parent of minor children, you may find that you're in a situation where you have to move yourself and the children to a new location, perhaps due to a new job, new marriage, family obligations, or some other reason. There are a couple of steps you need...
"Standard Visitation" is a term you'll hear at least a few times if you're ever involved in a custody battle. A lot of people think they know what it is, and a lot of people (including lawyers) insist that it's just the way parenting time is split up in Tennessee....
In an earlier post, I described how child support can be extended indefinitely for an adult child who became severely disabled before the age of 18. I lamented that Tennessee law does not give us a definition of "severely disabled", or any guidance whatsoever in the...
Since I recently posted a blog about annulment but I haven't posted anything about conservatorships in a while, I decided to show an example how a conservator can use an annulment to keep someone from taking advantage of her father. This case is Nave v. Nave, (173...
Both an annulment and a divorce will end a marriage, but an annulment is retroactive, meaning it erases the marriage from its beginning almost as if the marriage had never existed at all. This is appropriate if your marriage has some defect that caused it to be...
You have a lot of opportunities to be creative when drafting your marital dissolution agreement. If you and your spouse are able to agree on the terms of their divorce, you have a great deal of flexibility when working through the division of your assets and debts,...
Certain types of alimony may stop when the recipient gets remarried. The first step is to determine what type of alimony is being paid.
A bill has been introduced to add a $10 fee to all divorces filed, to fund violence shelters. Is this a good idea?
If you and your spouse have decided to live separately, but you’re not quite ready for a divorce, you might want to know if you need a legal separation or whether you can just simply live apart.
New legislation in Tennessee may affect how medical health records may be acquired and used in child custody cases.
Many divorces involve resolving what to do with the debt on real property owned by the couple. Should both parties stay liable on the debt after the divorce is final?
If you are approaching divorce, you may be thinking about moving out of the marital home. There are a few steps you should take first.
Some new legislation affecting child custody decisions took effect on July 1st in Tennessee. I've previously written about the steps a court will take when developing a parenting schedule, including the factors the court must consider. This new law modifies one of...
I previously gave some reasons why engaged couples should consider a prenuptial agreement. Here, I’m going to share the most common reasons why people may choose not to have such an agreement.
Prenuptial agreements are no longer just for wealthy or famous people. Many modern marriages could benefit from planning ahead and if you are about to get married, you might be surprised what a well drafted agreement can do for you.
Reese Witherspoon’s parents, Mary Elizabeth and John Witherspoon, may have a problem. Mary Elizabeth filed a petition in Davidson county on May 9th, 2012 accusing her husband of running off to Gatlinburg, TN and marrying another woman.
Tennessee has several requirements to form a valid marriage.
A bill proposed by lawmakers in Alabama would create a "covenant marriage", which would make obtaining a divorce more difficult for the couple. The optional marriage would require the couple to attend marriage counseling before they get married, and they would also...
Alimony is a legal obligation of one spouse to provide support to the other spouse after a divorce or legal separation. Most often, this support is in the form of monthly payments of a set amount.
A fairly common problem can arise when one spouse had previously spent a bunch of money on their new lover, leaving less money in the joint accounts to split. It doesn’t seem fair that the innocent spouse should be left with less money due to the affair, but how can the court equalize the distribution?
Tennessee law says that when a child is born to married parents the child will have the father’s last name, unless the parents request otherwise. However, a child born to parents who are not married will have the mother’s last name unless both parties agree on another name. An action to establish paternity or chid support will not automatically cause the child’s name to be changed.
In this appellate court opinion, after the father’s repeated frivolous claims against the mother it was reasonable to give custody of the minor child to the mother.
Any time a divorce is filed in Tennessee the court will automatically issue an injunction against both parties preventing them from performing certain acts like canceling health insurance, closing joint accounts, or hiding the children.
A parenting plan is a document that will describe how you and your spouse will share the parenting responsibilities, as well as define who will be making certain decisions, and paying expenses, among other matters.
When considering whether or not to appoint someone as conservator over the estate of another person (often called the "ward"), it must be shown to the court by clear and convincing evidence that the ward "is fully or partially disabled and that the [ward] is in need...
A marital dissolution agreement (sometimes called an "MDA") is a document used in irreconcilable differences divorces. It's basically a contract between a husband and wife to end their marriage and divide all the marital property and marital debts. In order to...
Suppose you’ve lived with the love of your life for many years. Suppose during those many years the two of you have purchased property together, made a nice home for yourselves, and accumulated a lot of assets. However, the two of you never decided to get married, but now it’s time to go your separate ways. How do you divide your property?
To protect the safety of the public you’d expect the courthouse security officers to be looking for weapons, or things that could be used as weapons: knives, guns, bats, ice picks, iron pipes, mannequin arms, dead cats, etc. In reality, it’s not quite that simple.
I've previously explained how Tennessee courts will divide marital assets during a divorce, and I clarified how the court will divide property that was purchased after the parties separate, but before their divorce was final. That's great, but what about debt? With...
Tennessee has revised the “harassment” statute to include language that makes it illegal to communicate “with another person or [transmit] or [display] an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim”
In previous posts, I've written about aggressive lawyers who aren't really helping their client's cases, and I've written about lawyers being scolded by the court for encouraging conflict rather than seeking resolutions. If you're still thinking that hiring the...
After a few years of paying alimony, you might say to yourself “I’ve been paying all this money to my ex-spouse for a long time. The situation is a lot different than it was when we got divorced. Can I stop paying the alimony?”
In Tennessee, a person who reaches the age of 18 is presumed to be legally competent, regardless how mild or severe their disability may be. This can cause problems for parents who are used to managing their child’s affairs. How do you know if a conservatorship might be right for your child?
Cases involving custody are often the most heated, time consuming, and most expensive cases in the Family Court. Very often, the court finds itself trying to decide between two people who love their kids and want what’s best for the children. How does the court do this?
Aggression can have it’s place, but often outright aggression serves little purpose beyond causing delays, more conflict, and more expense. Believe it or not, attorneys are bound by ethical standards which require us to move your case along and keep fees reasonable.
Among the various decisions and surprises that you may face as part of your divorce is establishing how much alimony will be paid by one spouse to the other. This can be a vexing problem because where child support is set using a cut-and-dry calculation, alimony is determined using a much more subjective procedure.
Participating in certain activities (like BDSM and polyamory) might result in the termination of your parental rights, according to one Court in Tennessee. You might be shocked to find out that a court might decide that you should know that your lifestyle will result in abuse to your child.
The easy way out in a divorce is for the two parties to negotiate and agree that the husband will pay certain debts, and the wife will pay certain other debts. The problem is, unless you arrange to have your name removed from joint accounts, you might find yourself responsible for more debt than you bargained for.
Lawyers use a lot of tools and techniques to build their client’s divorce case, but one of the most useful (and sometimes most feared) is the discovery process. Discovery is so useful that some attorney’s use it as a threat. Find out how discovery can help your case.
Until recently, a person who had failed to pay his child support could very easily find himself in jail for up to six months. Our bloodlust for deadbeat dads had caused the government to do one of the things our founding fathers had feared the most: We were putting people in jail with little or no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Contempt of court often comes up when somebody fails to pay their child support. There’s no statute that makes failure to pay child support a criminal offense that requires jail time. So how does somebody end up behind bars for failure to pay?
Facebook recently launched a new function called Facebook Places. This is a new function (active on your mobile device) that allows you to quickly post not only your location, but you can include the names of those with you. At first blush, this sounds like a lot of...
It’s probably too early to say the paramour provision is dead, but the rules are changing for the better.
Divorce can offer the unsuspecting participant some ugly surprises. One of these is what’s called the “paramour provision” in a Tennessee parenting plan.
Suppose the wife of a wealthy lawyer files for divorce in January, and the couple spends several months negotiating a settlement. Eight months later, they still haven’t got the divorce settled, and the lawyer gets awarded a big fee in a case he’s been working on for several years. When I say “big”, I mean a fee in the amount of $17,000,000. It’s been almost a year since the couple split up, is the wife entitled to some of that money?
Even if you have a perfectly good prenup that makes adequate provision for your spouse, leaves the custody decisions up to the court, and makes a perfectly sensible division of property, you can still screw it up.
If you spend much time watching TV or follow the dramatic lives and divorces of celebrities, you’ve undoubtedly heard of prenuptial agreements (what some people call a “prenup”) and the problems they can cause.
Yesterday the news broke that the person who authorized doctors to remove Gary Coleman’s life support was his ex-wife. Who has the power to pull your plug?
So what’s the problem? The divorce has been filed. The parties are separated. The kids are spending time with each parent. The divorce is so close you can taste it, why not go ahead get out there, have some fun, and re-enter the dating scene?
Divorce procedure in Tennessee is generally fairly straightforward, but certain issues are often sure to cause a fight. The most emotional and violent fights tend to be over the custody of the children, but often not far behind is the prospect of one party paying...
Is the stuff we purchase after the separation marital property or separate property?
Gone are the days when child support payments were calculated by simply taking a percentage of the payer’s income. Tennessee (like many states) has adopted the “income shares” model for calculating child support payments. The process has become so complicated that Tennessee provides a software child support calculator to help parents and attorneys determine the payments.
Think your divorce is messed up? Chances are you've got nothing on this story (link removed) out of California. Kidnapping, drugging, torture Mohammad Hanafi of Hawthorne, California is currently on trial on accusations that he and a friend kidnapped his wife and...
A local man committed murder upon his wife over a divorce settlement which gave her $31,000 in savings bonds and $1,800 per month from his pension. In fact, it would appear that the couple had just resolved their divorce earlier that day. Later on, the husband...
Many divorce cases are either ruined or complicated because the parties involved simply talk too much. If you are in the middle of a divorce, my biggest piece of advice to you is to keep your mouth closed. Rumors have a way of coming around to haunt you, and what...
This is an example of the documents I’ll need in order to proceed with your divorce (this may change depending on your situation). Gathering some of these may involve a little time and effort on your part,but this is the documentation I need in order to protect your rights and make sure you get the settlement you deserve.
Would you believe your spouse is cheating? Would you like to know why there seems to be a lot of money missing? Is there a good reason to file for divorce? It may be that the best way to find out is to hire a private investigator.
If you have made an appointment for a divorce consultation, you should come to your consultation with the assumption that we may decide to go ahead with the divorce procedure. The process begins with composing several documents that must be signed and filed with the...
The story I’m about to tell you is my favorite example of how goofy our child support laws can be. Read it and tell me what you think.
There’s no doubt that a divorce can be a very difficult, uncomfortable, and maddening experience. I’ve had my fair share of angry clients, and I’ll even admit that my first marriage ended badly and I carried some bitterness for quite a while.
Without a doubt, this is the question I hear more than any other. Legal problems can be very expensive and many people put off talking to a lawyer out of fear of the legal fees. Very often people could lower the cost of hiring an attorney if they would do a little preparation early in their case. Here are some ways to make your legal representation more affordable.
A guy called me from one of the New England states because he had been sued by the Tennessee Child Support Services. The child support order required him to pay a certain amount of child support to his son’s mother in weekly installments. In order to make his life easier, he was paying a full month’s worth of support at the beginning of each month.
Way back in the 1970’s, the public became concerned that the government was paying welfare for the support of children who were not being supported by both of their parents. Put another way: Why are my tax dollars going to feed children if their parents aren’t putting food on the table?
53.2 percent of parents who are supposed to be receiving child support are not receiving the full amount they are due. 23.7 percent aren’t receiving child support at all. What can you do about this?
This is somewhat of a follow up to my post about one of my biggest fights with my wife. This will probably have an even more tenuous application to law, but go with me and let’s see where we end up.
This question comes up most often in the case where a casual encounter leads to a pregnancy, and the mother of this child is not anxious to let the father see or spend time with the child. If your situation is anything like this, there are some steps you can take, and there are also some consequences you need to understand.
Tennessee is a fault-based state, which means that the person asking the court for a divorce must show that there is some basis, or reason, for the marriage to end. The statutes offer many different possible reasons (called “grounds”).
Some lawyers say that they’ll argue anything that doesn’t turn their face purple from embarrassment. This is called the “purple face” test. While your attorney has an ethical duty to be candid with the judge and jury, you expect him to look at the facts from every possible angle and perhaps use a little creativity to formulate a realistic and favorable perspective to present to the judge or jury.
If you are thinking that the high divorce rate is uniquely American, take a look at this article from Malaysia. In an effort to curb the rising divorce rate caused by “body odour, humdrum sex and boring pyjamas”, the Malaysian government is hiring marriage consultants to teach people how to spice up their sex lives.
For various reasons, married couples sometimes split without ever ending their marriage. Eventually one of them will want to marry somebody else, but they have this problem of the old marriage hanging around like an unsightly tumor and the previous spouse is nowhere to be found.
The subject of prenuptial (also called an antenuptial) agreeements certainly make for good entertainment in sitcoms and tablids. While many people think they know what a “prenup” is and how one works, misconceptions about. I’m going to give you a quick summary of how these agreements work in Tennessee.
I don’t know what’s wrong with these two, but I bet it’s hard to spell. I can’t help but notice that neither of them talk about the kids unless they’re either trying to build sympathy for their case or using them as a weapon against the other, as evidenced by the legal battle over “John & Kate Plus 8”.
This is the story of one of the biggest fights my wife and I ever had. It was all about “abandoned property”. We were at dinner one evening with a group of friends. I don’t remember exactly why, but we were sitting in the bar section of a restaurant, and I remember watching sports on the televisions mounted on the walls.
As could have been predicted, rumors are that Letterman’s wife wants a divorce. If so, I’ll be watching with interest as his case would touch on a couple of issues I’ve written about recently. I had written about whether or not Hugh Hefner’s wife could use “adultery” as grounds, and I’ve described how property division is handled in Tennessee. So how would a Tennessee court handle this situation?
About a week ago, I posted about whether same-sex couples can get a divorce in Tennessee. I wrote that they could not, and I still have that opinion, based on Tennessee’s current constitution and statutes. However, it appears this issue may come to a head in Texas, where a district judge ruled that a gay couple could be divorced, even though Texas will not recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex.
One of the first things I talk to my divorce clients about is their online presence. Before we even think about filing for divorce, I tell them their MySpace, Facebook, and other social pages need to be cleansed and purified. I tell them we’ll just have to hope their spouse hasn’t been keeping copies of their pages and pictures they’ve posted.
My clients are often very concerned about the property division in a divorce. Everybody has heard stories about someone getting “cleaned out” and being left with nothing while their spouse lives in the lap of luxury. Does this really happen? Is it fair? What can you do to stop it?
A court in Indiana has refused to grant a divorce to a same-sex married couple. What would the result have been if they had lived in Tennessee?
The courts in Tennessee follow a two step process when considering whether to modify your Parenting Plan. First, the judge must find there has been a material change in circumstances. Then, the court must find that a change in the Parenting Plan is in the best...
If Hugh Hefner lived in Tennessee, would he be able to divorce Kimberly Conrad because she committed adultery?
A look at whether assertive or aggressive representation is more appropriate for your case.
A brief look at extending the child support obligation for children with severe disabilities.
Part 1 of a look at how child support can continue after the child has reached the age of 18.