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Williamson County Divorce Law Blog

Child custody battle seesaws in and out of Tennessee

A long-running child custody dispute that has received tremendous social media attention is yet again awaiting a court ruling. At the heart of the dispute is a 10-year-old girl who was adopted and brought to Tennessee as an infant and raised by foster parents. The girl's biological father had been convicted of a firearms crime and given a 15-year jail term, but his sentence was reduced and he was released earlier this year. He was subsequently given custody of his daughter by a Nebraska court, but that decision is being evaluated by a Tennessee appeals court.

Meanwhile, the girl has been returned to her father although she is technically a ward of the state of Nebraska, and is apparently doing well academically and socially, according to the father's lawyer. Further, jurisdiction on this child custody case had been shifted to Nebraska; however, the hearing has been deferred until the appeals court hands down its decision. The Tennessee court is thus also expected to weigh in on the jurisdiction issue.

Obtaining a fair resolution in a high asset divorce

When high net worth spouses head for divorce, the question of asset division often comes up. Residents of Williamson, Tennessee, may have read stories about celebrities or other wealthy couples who could not come to an agreement on how to divide various assets. While the issues could easily have had to do with some pre-existing animosity between the separating spouses, such asset disputes only tend to make divorces seem bitter and vindictive.

Generally speaking, resolving any divorce dispute - not necessarily a high asset divorce - involves establishing the financial contribution of the partners to the marriage and their status following the divorce. Usually, partners have some assets of their own that they have brought into the marriage. Most times, they get to keep those assets after the divorce. If there is a chance that the divorce will create a significant disparity in the spouses' finances, an arbitrating court may find it necessary to award spousal support in addition to the transfer of some of the assets.

How many types of alimony exist in Tennessee?

The most common definition of "alimony" is generally seen in the context of the divorce of a married couple. A general assumption may also be that the man has a higher earning capacity and is thus required by law to provide spousal support. However, it may surprise residents of Williamson, Tennessee, to know that state laws provide four types of alimony, which may be used individually or together depending on the circumstances.

Such a varied approach takes into consideration that society has evolved significantly since the inclusion of alimony as a divorce legal concept. In today's world, both spouses tend to be wage earners and employment is not altered by either marriage or divorce. In addition, a spouse who may have chosen not to work subsequent to marriage or childbirth can likely find suitable employment once again.

Maintaining full disclosure during property division in a divorce

Marriage, as the cliché goes, is about sharing and caring for each other. This process often means acquiring assets and liabilities in relation to setting up a home and, in many cases, a family. However, when the couple, seeks a divorce, all these acquisitions are likely to become a source of dispute, with either partner likely to stake a claim over them.

As residents of Williamson, Tennessee, probably know, when courts have to adjudicate the division of marital property, they operate on the principle of equitable property division. Per this rule, assets and liabilities are so divided as to ensure neither partner is put under undue financial stress subsequent to the divorce. This requires the total cooperation of the partners in terms of honestly listing any and every item of value owned by them.

NFL's domestic violence history sullies the league's reputation

Domestic violence is defined as any form of physical, emotional, sexual, economic or psychological intimidation by one intimate partner toward the other. Statistics show that every minute nearly 24 people become victims of physical violence at the hands of their intimate partners, including rape or stalking. Additionally, every three in 10 women and 10 percent of men are victims of domestic violence in the United States.

Many NFL players have been accused of domestic violence in the past. The punishment meted out by the league thus far has been complicated rather than consistent. Domestic violence cases may be one of the biggest issues plaguing the league which has led to the NFL announcing a new policy to curb domestic violence. Not a month after the new policy was announced, a video of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens knocking out his then-fiancé was made public. Domestic violence led to more than 10 percent of NFL player arrests in the last decade. The league seems to be unsure about how to act after a player's arrest, keeping in mind the checkered past of other league legends.

How do courts determine child custody during divorce?

Perhaps the most crucial question to be addressed during a divorce settlement is deciding who gets custody of the children. In part, this has a lot to do with which of the parents can reliably provide the most appropriate upbringing, both financially and emotionally. In some divorces, this dispute is automatically settled by the circumstances that lead to the divorce, such as domestic violence.

The judge presiding over the case generally needs to address the issue only when both parents are seeking custody and cannot mutually decide on what is in the best interests of the child. It is that concern that guides the decision of the court as well; however, it may require an in-depth investigation into the lives of the parents to reach a decision on child custody. This is, however, likely to vary, depending on the state in which the case occurs.

Understanding what behaviors "domestic violence" includes

According to certain Tennessee legal organizations, domestic violence comprises of aggressive behavior that is exercised in order to gain power and control over an intimate partner. In addition to physical abuse, domestic violence also involves coercive behavior that affects an intimate partner's psychological and economic well-being. Often, women are victims of domestic violence, but there are number of instances when a male partner has also been subjected to abuse.

Domestic violence can be perpetrated in a number of ways and does not always necessarily involve physical abuse or violence. Some advocates in Tennessee define domestic violence as any of the following acts:

  • Emotional abuse where a victim is forced to perform activities against his or her wishes. The victim may find that activity violates his or her moral or religious principles.
  • Isolation is another form of domestic violence. In this, the perpetrator raises objections over his or her intimate partner's social contacts, including family members. In such cases, victims are often left without anyone to confide in.
  • The perpetrator may also threaten to harm an intimate partner's child if that partner does not heed to the unreasonable demands of the perpetrator.
  • Often, gender role stereotypes play a significant role in domestic violence cases. Generally, these are "male privileges" which may enter into a relationship.
  • Economic abuse is another form in which, a perpetrator manages to restrict a victim's access to money by various means, thus limiting a victim's chances of escape or retaliation.
  • Sexual abuse is another, and fairly common, form of domestic violence. In this, a victim is coerced into performing sexual activities that he or she feels are immoral.

High asset divorce could cost oil mogul half his billions

Tennessee residents who follow divorce news would know that billionaire oilman Harold Hamm's divorce settlement proceedings could cost him half of his $17 billion fortune to his wife of more than two decades. Hamm comes from a large family of humble origins. He was a scrappy wildcat oilman who grew a fortune during his marriage, which is currently ending in a divorce trial.

Hamm's fortune is one of the largest asset division amounts to end up in divorce court. Hamm is among the top 50 richest people, which could be due to his incredible business acumen and perseverance or good fortune. As is usual with high asset divorces, this case has taken an intense turn where the issue at hand is for a judge to determine how much of those billions can be labeled as marital assets for property division after divorce.

Protecting retirement assets during property division

As it is often cited in the media, national divorce rates are at an all time high with as many as nearly half of all marriages coming to an end over time. Although the divorce rate in Tennessee may not be overly alarming, it might be a good idea to plan ahead and cover all your bases for emotionally turbulent times. Among the many issues that may come up in the course of a divorce proceeding, property division could make for a volatile topic.

Property division can be a sensitive topic since a couple jointly invests their time and assets in a marriage, the dissolution of which might cause unwelcome financial upheavals. Hard earned money saved up as part of retirement assets, investments, and Individual Retirement Accounts are all geared towards planning for those years when working might not be an option anymore.

What do Tennessee's equitable property division rules mean?

Statistical data from all over the United States indicates that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. The end of a marriage signals many changes. For couples with children, child custody can be a major change. Meanwhile, for all couples financial matters can be a major source of contention.

But while property division is a consistent issue, the rules for handling property division are less consistent. In fact, although state divorce laws are generally similar, they can vary significantly on different issues. Matters like property division will differ depending on if the state is a community property state or, such as Tennessee, an equitable distribution state.

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