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Williamson County Divorce Law Blog

Hiding assets can get divorcing spouses in trouble

Divorce laws in Tennessee allow equitable division of marital property. Spouses with a high net worth and valuable assets may wish not to disclose part of their assets, in order to protect them from being divided in the divorce. However, if that happens, the other spouse will not receive a fair amount of the marital property, which is illegal. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, more than 30 percent of high net worth individuals in the United States have been deceptive toward their partners when it came to representing the marital assets accurately.

Spouses who have been deceptive about their assets may have hidden cash from one another or may not have informed the other spouse about a purchase that the spouse has made. Hiding a bill or providing false information about finances, income and debt are also not uncommon. However, as stated previously, such acts are illegal and may have serious consequences.

Immediate physical child custody may be awarded to a petitioner

In Tennessee, family courts have temporary emergency jurisdiction in child custody cases when a child has been abandoned or a parent or a sibling of the child has been threatened or abused. If the court doesn't issue a temporary emergency order, it may try to ease the situation by finding a petitioner who can take immediate physical custody of a child to remove the child from the harmful situation.

This scenario is only possible when a child custody order has not been registered and confirmed. It is also valid in circumstances where the court which issued the custody order had no jurisdiction in Tennessee or the child custody order had been stayed or modified by a court that has jurisdiction. In cases where the respondent was supposed to receive notice regarding the proceedings of court about matters related to a child custody determination, but the notice was not delivered as required, the court may order a petitioner to take immediate physical custody of the child in the interim.

Report on domestic violence reveals alarming statistics

Domestic violence is one of the most disturbing problems across United States, and the recent report published by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation corroborates this fact. The statistics and data released by TBI show that over 70 percent of the domestic violence victims were women, which is no doubt quite alarming. It also suggests that women were three times more vulnerable than men as subjects of domestic violence.

According to this report, almost 70 percent of the domestic violence cases were that of simple assault, and many of the victims were abused by their spouses rather than being abused by a former spouse. Almost 270 people have died over a period of three years as a result of domestic violence. This report also suggests that close to 60 percent of the victims were juveniles and were likely abused by their parents or step-parents.

Understanding the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

Divorced spouses in Tennessee may be aware of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which prohibits abduction or forced custody of a child by the non-custodial parent. Parental kidnapping generally refers to the non-custodial parent detaining a child within a state or removing the child from the resident state, after visitation rights have ended or have been cancelled by the court.

The Act does not allow other states to modify a custody order issued by a court in any state, unless the original state declines to exercise jurisdiction over the order. According to this Act, if the jurisdiction of a child custody case lies within one state, no move can be made regarding jurisdiction by any court in any other state. The PKPA gives priority to the home state in cases involving child custody orders and visitation rights, during the initial custody hearing. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in some instances, allows two states to have jurisdiction over one case.

Representing domestic violence victims in Tennessee

Many residents of Tennessee may have faced or witnessed domestic violence. Domestic abuse generally refers to certain violent behavior that one partner exhibits in order to maintain control over the other. Domestic violence can also refer to emotional and sexual tortures that one may be subject to. At times, the victim is also exploited financially by the perpetrator or is prevented from venturing outside the house. Physical abuse to someone's property or children can also be considered domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence may request an order of protection. A protective order prevents the perpetrator from residing in the same house as the victim. In case the victim leaves the house, the same order forces the perpetrator to pay the rent for the house where the victim has now moved to. This order can also grant temporary custody of the children to the victim and make the other person pay for the necessary child support. However, this order doesn't cover the protection of the children.

Can unmarried fathers in Tennessee obtain child custody?

A common point of discussion and debate is the rights of unmarried fathers to obtain child custody and visitation. Every state, including Tennessee, has its own definition of "father" and "parent" and these definitions play a significant role in the court's decision regarding child custody and visitation. Thankfully, fathers' rights have evolved and current Tennessee law allows an unmarried father to claim custody of his child.

The first step an unmarried father must take to obtain child custody is to establish paternity. This can either be done by a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity at the time of the child's birth or at a later date. However, if paternity is disputed either by the father or mother, the child's paternity is determined by a court-order DNA test. After paternity establishment, the father can file a petition to request child custody and visitation rights.

Protecting personal assets before marriage and during divorce

Many divorced people may agree that property division during a divorce is a complicated matter. Divorce law in Tennessee allows an equitable division of marital property but a few new laws have been put in place to help divorced spouses tackle property division issues with less complexity.

The Tennessee Investment Services Act of 2007 is helpful for people who want to protect non-marital property during a divorce. This act allows a person to transfer all separate property into an investment services trust before getting married. This will ensure that the properties in the trust remain protected from all financial issues that crop up at the time of a divorce. Generally, potential spouses with property look to signing pre- and post-nuptial agreements related to property division. But if an IST is used, one spouse can unilaterally transfer all non-marital properties to the trust.

Factors considered before awarding alimony

Residents of Franklin, Tennessee, who are contemplating filing an alimony claim, may find it useful to the factors that courts look to when evaluating alimony claims. Awarding alimony is entirely at the court's discretion and there is no such obligation to award it unless substantial proof has been presented in front of the court.

The court considers 12 factors before deciding on awarding alimony. The most important factors are the financial need of the spouse seeking alimony and the ability of the other party to pay. The person seeking alimony should provide enough proof to the court to substantiate the claim. The court would also keep in mind the standard of living of the spouses during and after their marriage.

What to expect at a Tennessee domestic violence court hearing

In a situation where two people are divorced and one committed domestic abuse, anywhere in the U.S., including in Tennessee, the other spouse can request an order of protection in court. It is important for the abuse victim to understand what comes next. The judge may immediately sign the order; however, that doesn't guarantee that the abuser will continue to support their child or move out of the house.

It is important for the complainant to appear in court. Otherwise, the court has the right to dismiss the case and ask the complainant to pay the court fees, which can be between $150 and $170. If the abuse victim needs more time to hire a lawyer, the court may allow that.

Williamson County attorneys decide on property division matters

In a divorce in Williamson County, Tennessee, there are often some complex issues to settle. Apart from matters concerning children, property division and debt can also be quite unsettling. In Tennessee, courts order equitable division of property; however, equitable does not always mean 50:50 property division. The court assesses several factors in order to determine how your marital property, home and other assets should be divided. Those can be very complicated matters and it might be a good idea to consult an experienced attorney to discuss property division.

Judy A. Oxford, Attorney at Law, works with attorneys who have years of experience in handling property division matters in a divorce. The firm is able to work with experts who can evaluate bank records and financial assessments related to the divorce. An experienced attorney can obtain property appraisals so that spouses can have as much information as possible going in to the property division process.

Contact Judy A. Oxford

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Judy A. Oxford, Attorney at Law
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