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Social Media and Divorce

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Social Media a Routine Component of Divorce Proceedings in Nashville and Throughout the U.S.

Social media has become a blessing for people who want to maintain connections with friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, it has also become one of the leading causes of divorce in Nashville and throughout the U.S… Between old flames, new temptations, and other sources of marital stress Facebook and Twitter are now the most commonly cited reasons leading up to divorce. On top of being the leading cause of marital disturbances, personal accounts are routinely subpoenaed by Nashville divorce attorneys as a source of information in divorce proceedings.

There are several potential benefits, however,  of introducing incriminating evidence from your spouse’s social media account. Adultery is among the most common reasons why social media evidence is introduced before the divorce court judge. This is particularly true when a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement has an adultery clause. A skilled Nashville divorce attorney gathers information from social media as evidence that your spouse broke their vows to you and help you recover the full monetary compensation you deserve.

Nashville divorce attorneys have been shocked over the last several years at the devastating impact social media has had on spouses and their children. As you separate from your spouse, make sure you do not let social media negatively impact your divorce in any way. The best advice is to not put anything online, or engage in any conversations on your social media account, that you would not want a divorce judge to read.

Contact our experienced Nashville divorce attorney at Middle Tennessee Family Law if you are considering divorce, or have been served divorce papers. Do not turn to social media or use it for anything that may be used against you in a divorce proceeding. We strongly suggest you keep your personal matters private and limit what you say to others via social media messages. For your free initial consultation, call us at 615-771-6944 or contact us online.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Nashville Tennessee

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Tennessee law provides options for divorcing couples.

When a marriage comes to an end, emotions can often interfere with a spouse’s ability to seek out and understand all of the available options and solutions for resolving any conflict. Even when there is no conflict between separating spouses, it remains essential that each spouse make informed decisions concerning issues which still affect the entire family.

In Tennessee, spouses seeking to end their marriage must seek either an uncontested or a contested divorce. While it may appear that the distinction between these two options centers upon whether or not the spouses in question have agreed to end their marriage, this usually is not the case; rather, in a contested divorce, the two spouses are unable to agree on the terms of the divorce settlement.

Under Tennessee law, couples are entitled to file for an uncontested divorce when at least one spouse has resided in Tennessee for at least six months, and both spouses agree to end the marriage. In addition, uncontested divorces can be granted when both spouses cite irreconcilable difference as the grounds for the divorce, and no further explanation or show of proof is required by the court.

Couples without minor children may be granted a divorce sixty days after initial filing and service; couples with minor children borne of the marriage must wait ninety days. Couples with children must also agree on what Tennessee calls a Permanent Parenting Plan, which must address the following issues:

  • The parent to be designated as the primary residential parent;
  • The visitation schedule, detailing the days, times, and locations of scheduled visitation;
  • The amount of child support to be either paid or collected

All Tennessee couples seeking an uncontested divorce must create a written marital dissolution agreement, which sets forth how the couple intends to divide both their marital assets and marital debts. Unlike child support payments, the amount of which is subject to strict guidelines under Tennessee law, divorcing couples are free to divide their assets and debts between themselves in any manner that they wish.

Uncontested divorce has many advantages over contested divorce—not only is the process faster and less expensive, the allowed simple claim of irreconcilable differences also allows both spouses to maintain their privacy. This differs from contested divorces, which, in Tennessee, require proof of at least one ground, or basis, for the divorce. Recognized grounds for divorce in Tennessee include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment—when one spouse forces the other spouse out of the home and refuses support
  • Inappropriate marital conduct, including cruel and inhuman treatment such as verbal and/or physical abuse
  • Habitual alcohol or drug abuse
  • Bigamy
  • Imprisonment for a felony

As mentioned, in a contested divorce, a spouse alleging any of this conduct must then offer evidence proving it at a hearing before a judge. The other spouse is then entitled to offer evidence countering this claim. Because of this, both spouses are typically allowed six months to gather and prepare evidence for this hearing; this, of course, also increases the court costs and attorney’s fees.

Couples contesting a divorce are also often unable to agree upon a settlement of various issues, including:

  • Property issues, including division of property, valuation of property, and determination of whether property is owned jointly or separately.
  • Alimony payments
  • Parenting issues, such as custody, visitation, and child support

Couples seeking divorce who are unable to agree on certain issues, yet who still wish to avoid the time and expense of a contested divorce and a hearing before a judge may also choose to reach an agreement through the use of a third-party mediator—in fact, many divorcing Tennessee couples are required to attend mediation at some point during the process. Through mediation, both spouses can avoid the stress and anxiety of court proceedings, reaching a solution of their own choosing, rather than leaving the decision up to a judge.

At Middle Tennessee Family Law in downtown Nashville, our knowledgeable Nashville divorce attorney is dedicated to helping clients make informed decisions regarding their divorce, and guiding them to the equitable settlement that they deserve. If you are seeking a divorce, and are unsure of whether to file for a contested or uncontested divorce, we are ready to help. For a free initial consultation, contact us online today, or call (615) 620-5846. Evening and weekend appointments are available.

The Advantages of Hiring an Experienced Nashville Divorce Attorney

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You could “do it yourself”—but here’s why you shouldn’t

Not all divorces are resolved through nasty, drawn-out courtroom skirmishes waged by bitter spouses, eager to publicly humiliate a soon-to-be ex. Many divorcing couples agree to divorce without any disagreement over matters such as child custody, property division, and even alimony. After investigating the various court costs associated with filing for an uncontested Tennessee divorce, such couples may reasonably question the need for each spouse to bear the added expense of hiring their own attorney.

However, even couples wishing to part on as amicable terms as possible should still be aware of the risks, perhaps significant, of navigating the Tennessee divorce process without the assistance of an experienced Nashville divorce attorney. Below are just some of the pitfalls which can occur, and which both spouses should bear in mind as they begin this often complex legal procedure.

  • A knowledgeable Nashville divorce attorney can help avoid costly mistakes, often inadvertent, made by spouses unfamiliar with the divorce process who might fail to file a necessary document, miss an important deadline, or fail to meet certain requirements set forth by both the courts and Tennessee law. For example, couples with minor children must not only file a Permanent Parenting Plan which meets with court approval, but must also agree upon support payments which are subject to strict statutory guidelines; for example, Tennessee parents are strictly forbidden from entering any agreement which waives their child’s right to receive support payments.
  • A skilled Nashville divorce attorney can help avoid unnecessary delays caused by a mistake as described above, or a failure to follow proper court procedures. Although couples without minor children can be granted a final divorce judgment sixty days after filing for an uncontested divorce, failure to provide the correct materials or to fulfill various requirements at each step along the way can needlessly extend the process well past this minimum waiting period.
  • Even when there is no disagreement about a final settlement, drafting a valid Marital Dissolution Agreement can still require input from an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney who is able to spot potential ambiguities and future problems inherent in the language of the document. An attorney can also advise a client creating such an agreement of any potential tax liabilities or other issues which may arise in the future, and can draft more favorable alternatives to present to the other spouse for approval.
  • Finally, by retaining an experienced Nashville divorce attorney, those seeking a divorce are relieved of much of the stress involved with the divorce process, assured that the divorce is be handled as efficiently as possible, and that their needs and ultimate goals are not being overlooked.

It should be pointed out that many divorcing couples seek to retain an attorney that can represent both of them. Unfortunately, representing two spouses in a divorce action creates major ethical issues, as it is a fundamental conflict of interest for any attorney to represent opposing parties in the same action.

At Middle Tennessee Family Law, our experienced Nashville divorce attorney is dedicated to providing compassionate, skilled representation for Tennessee residents seeking help with the divorce process. Contact or call Middle Tennessee Family Law today at (615) 620-5846 for a free initial consultation. Our offices are located in downtown Nashville in the Pilcher Building, and we have evening and weekend appointments available.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Nashville Family Law Attorney Tiffany Johns, of Middle Tennessee Family Law, Launches New Website to Address Key Issues in Family Law and Wills and Estate Planning

Middle Tennessee residents facing divorce, family legal issues or estate planning matters will find useful information and an easy-to-navigate design at MiddleTennesseeFamilyLaw.com

Nashville, Tenn. Middle Tennessee Family Law, an established family and estate planning law practice representing clients in divorce, marital property division, alimony, child custody, child support, paternity, fathers’ rights and adoption proceedings, as well as wills, trusts and estate planning matters, has announced the launch of their new website, www.MiddleTennesseeFamilyLaw.com, giving men and women going through difficult family law, estate or probate matters access to reliable legal information to help them understand the nature of their claims and their legal rights.

According to firm founder, well-known Nashville attorney Tiffany Johns, “Getting through a divorce is extremely difficult for everyone. Our new website aims to ease the anxiety for people going through the divorce or probate process by providing information on some of the key topics in family and estate planning law in an easily accessible manner. The site’s user-friendly design allows clients and prospective clients to quickly gain insights into how Tennessee courts are likely to address the issues that may arise in their case.”

Key features of the new website include:

  • A general overview of Tennessee laws regarding divorce, property division, alimony, child custody, child relocation, child support, adoption, termination of parental rights, wills, trusts and probate.
  • An online contact form to request a free consultation
  • Information on the firm’s business hours, including convenient Saturday appointments
  • The ability to link to attorney Johns’ informative blog, which focuses on timely and relevant issues in family and estate planning law

The new website was designed and developed by Fuel Web Marketing, a full-service internet marketing firm based in Tampa Bay, FL.

The Nashville-based family law firm, Middle Tennessee Family Law, invites clients seeking information or representation in their divorce, custody or adoption case or any wills and estate planning matter in Middle Tennessee to view their new website today at www.MiddleTennesseeFamilyLaw.com.

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About Middle Tennessee Family Law: Middle Tennessee Family Law, a Nashville law firm focused exclusively on family and estate planning law, and the lead attorney, Tiffany Johns, passionately defends your rights at every stage of your divorce, marital property division, alimony, child custody, paternity, child support or estate case. The firm is located in the historic Pilcher building at 144 2nd Ave N, Nashville, TN 37201. Additional information about attorney Tiffany Johns or Middle Tennessee Family Law may be obtained from the firm’s website at www.MiddleTennesseeFamilyLaw.com or at 615-771-6944. 

What Happens in Tennessee When a Resident Dies Without a Will?

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State law provides questionable guidelines after a loved one fails to make their wishes clear

It may be surprising to learn that many (if not most) people who die in Tennessee do so without a valid will in place. After all, estate planning is hardly an obscure area of law. Still, many of us are uncomfortable at the prospect of pondering the prospect of their own demise, while others may simply procrastinate, assuming that their death is not yet imminent. In addition, sometimes the families of people who have created a valid will—or an invalid will that they believed to be valid—find themselves, upon the death of that loved one, in a situation where they are unable to locate the will, or they find that the will is not valid in Tennessee, or that the will is somehow defective.

The legal expression for dying without a valid will is dying “intestate”, and when this occurs in Tennessee, there are a set of state laws in place which determine what is known as “intestate succession”—a fancy way of saying “who gets what”. Here’s how these statutes work:

First, not all assets may be passed through intestate succession—or a will for that matter. For example, a house owned by two spouses as either a joint tenancy or a tenancy by the entirety, automatically passes to the surviving spouse. Assets with named beneficiaries or existing transfer-on-death provisions, such as life insurance proceeds and bank accounts, are also exempt from this process. And finally, many people wishing to avoid probate do so by transferring their assets to a trust. Thus, the first order of business for a court-appointed Tennessee estate administrator is to determine which assets are not exempt from probate and to then calculate the total value of the estate.

Next, a determination is made as to whether the deceased owes any debts, taxes, or other expenses. These obligations must be paid by the estate before the remaining property is ready to be divided among the surviving relatives of the deceased.

Tennessee law then dictates that the estate be divided as follows:

  • A surviving spouse takes the entire estate if the deceased has no children or descendants. If the deceased has one or two children, the surviving spouse divides the estate equally with the children, but must receive at least a 1/3 share.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, children of the deceased are entitled to equal shares. Because a surviving spouse must inherit at least 1/3 of the estate, these shares are divided equally among the remaining 2/3 of the estate where three or more children are involved.
  • Descendants of the deceased are entitled to equal shares of their parents’ share if their parent has also died. Therefore, in cases involving a surviving spouse and two surviving grandchildren, the grandchildren would split a 1/2 share (1/4 each) if they share the same parent; if the grandchildren are cousins, each would get a 1/3 share along with the surviving spouse. If the grandchildren have a single, surviving aunt and uncle who is also a child of the deceased, they would split a 1/3 share of the estate (1/6 each). If applicable, this distribution scheme continues with great-grandchildren.

If there is no surviving spouse, child, or other descendant:

  • A surviving parent is entitled to the entire estate. If both parents survive, each inherits a ½ share.
  • Siblings of the deceased take when there is no surviving parent. Surviving children of dead siblings are entitled to equal shares of their parents’ share.
  • Surviving grandparents take if there are no siblings;
  • Cousins take when there are no surviving grandchildren

Finally, when the deceased is determined to have absolutely no surviving family members, the entire estate “escheats” to the state of Tennessee.

Obviously, such a strict formula fails to take into account any number of things, beginning with the actual wishes of the deceased, as well as the relative need of each heir. In addition, the intestacy laws incorporate certain requirements of proof before permitting a child born out of wedlock to inherit from a deceased father (and vice-versa) while completely excluding stepchildren and foster children. Finally, posthumously born family members have inheritance rights equal to any other relative, provided that they were conceived while the deceased was still alive.

Finally, when an estate includes real property, it may be impossible to properly divide it into equal shares without selling the property. Obviously, settling disputes and finding solutions in these types of situations can be time-consuming and difficult.

The Nashville estate planning attorney at Middle Tennessee Family Law would like all Franklin, Brentwood and Nashville area residents to be aware of any provisions and limitations created by the state’s intestate succession laws so that they may take action today if there is a chance that their actual wishes may be disregarded should they die without a valid will. We believe that the creation of a will, or another suitably effective estate planning option such as a living trust, is very likely to provide a superior means of providing for your loved ones in the future. We urge you to contact us today at (615) 620-5846 or online for a free consultation to learn more. Please don’t put off this important task any longer. We offer evening and weekend appointments for your convenience.