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Williamson County Divorce Law Blog

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.

Domestic violence makes divorce worse

Divorce is most often a challenging event in a person's life. In fact, it often affects more than just the two people getting divorced. Divorce causes many negative emotions, such as anger, frustration and sadness. If domestic violence is involved, it can have a devastating effect on any couple in the United States, including those in Tennessee.

A recent report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers stated that 32 percent of lawyers have noticed an increase in domestic violence issues, while only six percent have noticed a decrease in domestic violence. Also, 36 percent of attorneys have noted an increase in restraining orders in divorce cases. A large chunk of the attorneys -- 63 percent -- believe that courts need to do more to address domestic violence issues.

Termination of alimony awards in Tennessee

Divorce is not merely about broken hearts and moving on in life but also legal matters such as alimony and child support payments. Alimony, or spousal support, is the payment that one spouse makes to another after divorce to help maintain a spouse's previous lifestyle and to help the spouse to prepare to possibly re-enter the workforce.

In Tennessee, as in other states in the country, alimony payments stop under certain circumstances. So, what are the circumstances that merit the termination of alimony awards?

Code Commission helps implement UCCJEA child-custody provisions

In divorces involving minor children, it is the children who are often the most affected. Many become worried about the future and which parent they will live with. They may feel torn between both parents, especially if they are being asked to choose sides. This is when a neutral third party is most needed. For this reason, courts will act in the best interests of children and award child custody to one parent and require the other to pay regular child support. However, as some Tennessee parents who have been awarded custody know, collection can turn out to be a problem if the other parent takes the children to another state, especially one with different child-custody laws.

This was one of the problems that the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act addressed in the late 1990s. Since then, every state but one has passed this model legislation, which seeks to resolve interstate jurisdictional conflicts over child-custody laws. The UCCJEA encourages cooperation between courts in different states so that children's best interests are considered primarily by the originating or home state.

Domestic violence and its effects on child custody in Tennessee

Domestic violence is a criminal offense that often involves both spouses and children. In domestic violence abuse cases, the greatest concerns are the mental and physical health of the victim of abuse. In Tennessee, like elsewhere in the country, domestic violence cases typically do not get reported as the victims are afraid of a backlash. Sometimes a domestic violence case is also fabricated by a spouse to avoid giving child custody to the other parent.

Whatever the case, it is often wise to consult with an experienced attorney to gather evidence and interview witnesses in an effort to come up with a fool-proof case. If a charge of domestic violence case has been brought against an individual, the person's reputation is inevitably tarnished. That individual may also lose the person's parental rights.

Controlling emotions after a divorce helps avoid a financial mess

Divorce is admittedly a very difficult time for all involved. Tennessee spouses typically feel a range of emotions, such as anger, depression, hurt, desperation, pain and relief when it's over. However, it is important to keep these emotions under control to keep financial decisions rational and to the point. People who typically emerge unscathed by divorce are those who do not make decisions regarding money matters in a rush. They judiciously consider all property division matters.

The first way to avoid emotional spending is to stay away from vanity purchases. While divorce is a difficult time, the urge to splurge and pamper oneself to feel good after a divorce only leads to a pile of debt, which always feels bad. So an important point is to consider if you really need what you're buying.

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Judy A. Oxford, Attorney at Law
400 Sugartree Lane, Suite 520
Franklin, TN 37064
Phone: (615) 791-8511
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