ANGEL KANE has been practicing since 1995. Angel was a member of the University of Memphis Law Review and served as a judicial law clerk while in law school. A graduate of the University of Memphis Law School, Angel has practiced in Memphis and Lebanon, Tennessee.

Divorce: What To Expect

 

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Many clients who come to us for advice during a divorce are going through it for the first time and have many questions. Although the process can be very complicated, knowing the basic information can help put a client at ease during a stressful time.

  Divorce can be a difficult situation for every party involved. It is the legal undoing of two people's assets, liabilities, and everything in between that make up the fabric of their lives. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the inevitable changes are important when you are going through a divorce.

  The first decision to be made is whether the divorce will be contested or uncontested. If you can come to a full agreement, the divorce is uncontested and the process is more simple. If you cannot come to a full agreement, the divorce is contested and requires negotiation, mediation, and, in some cases, a trial.

  In an uncontested divorce, the parties, or their attorneys, complete the necessary paperwork and file with the Court. If children are involved, parents must take a parenting class and file the certificate of completion with the Court.

  In a contested divorce, one party will begin the process by filing a complaint for divorce. The other party will then file their answer to that complaint and, possibly, a counter-complaint. The parties or their attorneys will then enter the negotiation phase. If negotiation is unsuccessful, the parties must attend mediation with a third party. In most cases, an agreement is able to be reached in either of these two phases. In some cases, mediation is not successful and the parties must have a trial to allow a judge to decide the issues, which can be a lengthy process.

  In Tennessee, the mandatory waiting period for a divorce from the time of filing is 60 days if the parties have no minor children and 90 days if the parties have minor children. This means that the divorce cannot be finalized until the time period runs.

  If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce or have been served with a complaint for divorce, contact us to get answers to your questions and let us assist you in making the best decisions.  Call Kane and Crowell at  (615) 784-4800 for more information about the divorce process in Tennessee.  

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Understanding Criminal Law: Retirement vs. Dismissal

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  If you have a criminal case, sometimes either a retirement or a dismissal may be obtained. The laws surrounding both can be confusing, so hiring an experienced criminal lawyer to navigate the system is often an advantage. Below is a brief summary of the two.

  A dismissal is exactly what it sounds like; your case is dismissed in its entirety. It is rare to walk away with an outright dismissal. However, an outright dismissal does happen on occasion, and having a local lawyer fighting on your behalf is a good step in that direction.

  A retirement, on the other hand, is a continuance with a dismissal at the end. Once the criminal case has been continued for some time, it is dismissed, as if it never occurred. A retirement may be conditioned upon certain factors being met. Further, at the end of a retirement, when the case is dismissed, a person is eligible to have their criminal record expunged.

  The difference between a retirement and a dismissal is that a dismissal completes your case right away, while a retirement dismisses your case after a set period of time. It is important to note that a retirement may also be conditioned upon certain requirements, including community service, probation, payment of fines, or other tasks, which must be completed before your case is dismissed.

  It is possible to have a criminal case andget a retirement, or even a dismissal. However, these results depend upon the facts of each case. Consulting an experienced local lawyer, who knows their way around the court system is a good start in that direction. Call us for a consultation at (615) 784-4800.

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Know Before You Post: Social Media, Search Warrants and Your Case

 
 
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Are you aware that what you post on social media may be used against you in your case?  Likewise, you may use another party's social media posts against them in your case. However, obtaining proof of these posts is not always easy. Ideally, you would be able to get an image of the posts. A subpoena or court order may be needed to recover posts that have been deleted or hidden. Some social media companies have argued it violates people's constitutional rights to force them to provide someone's social media account information or history. Here is a link to an article regarding a recent NY Court of Appeals decision on whether Facebook must give access to their users' posts. The Court decided Facebook must comply with requests to access user data. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/technology/facebook-loses-appeal-on-new-york-search-warrants.html?smid=tw-share
 
  At Kane and Crowell, we are ready to advise you on how social media posts and information may specifically affect your case. Call us now to schedule a consultation. (615) 784-4800
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Why Am I Required to Take a Parenting Class to Get a Divorce?

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Everyone going through a divorce in Tennessee has to take a court-approved parenting class if you have minor children at the time of your divorce. According to www.tn.gov, “This class or series of classes gives parents the information necessary to deal with their children and with each other during and after the divorce process. These seminars are meant to help the divorcing family through the traumas of divorce without putting more stress on the parties and their children.” The class includes topics related to children and family such as counseling; an overview of the Court, mediation, child support, and parenting plan process; suggested ways to help children of various ages cope with divorce; and grief and loss stages that everyone involved may experience through the process. This class must be completed within sixty (60) days of your divorce being finalized, BUT the sooner you can take the class, the better off everyone will be (and maybe even save you money in the long run.)

  The class can be taken in-person or online and typically lasts 4 hours. The cost is approximately $50, depending on the course you choose. As part of our legal services in a divorce case, we help our clients figure out the best way for the to complete this crucial step. Contact us today at (61to see how we can help you.

 

 

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Implied Consent: Do You Know Your Rights?

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This topic has been trending lately due to the disturbing video of a Utah nurse being arrested for not drawing the blood of an unconcsious patient for an officer without a warrant that has gone viral. Many people are not sure what their rights are when it comes to constitutional searches and seizures.

  Have you ever had an officer ask if you "consent" to allowing them to do a search? Are you aware that without having probable cause to believe an offense was committed, officers are not allowed to conduct a search without a search warrant? As usual, there is an exception to this law. It is called the good faith exception. In Tennessee, officers are allowed to collect evidence that may otherwise be found to be inadmissible in court if they believed in good faith that all of the circumstances gave them probable cause to do so. 

    There are two types of consent: actual and implied. Actual consent is when you expressly give consent, either orally or by writing. Implied consent is when it appears from all of the circumstances that consent has been given. Tennessee has a statute (55-10-406) that allows an officer of the law to order a test to check the alcohol or drug levels in a driver's blood if they have reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving while under the influence. The officer must explain to the driver the consequences for refusing to allow such a test. The minimum penalty of refusing is loss of license for one year. If the driver still refuses to give actual consent to the test, the driver can be charged under this statute and the test can still be administered.

   Kane and Crowell attorney Ashley L. Jackson had the privilege of hearing oral arguments on this issue in front of the Tennessee Supreme Court in the case of State of TN v. Corrin Reynolds. Essentially, the issue in this case was whether the good faith exception trumps someone's constitutional rights to be free of illegal search and seizure. Does a blood test for drugs or alcohol count as a search? And, if so, is a warrant required to conduct that type of search? The Supreme Court decided that a warrantless blood draw violates a defendant's constitutional rights. However, the Court adopted the good faith exception that the evidence from a warrantless blood draw can still be used if the officer was acting in objectively good faith.

  If you are a defendant and have faced an unlawful search or seizure, let us advise you as to your rights and the next steps. Call us at (615) 784-4800.

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Step-Parent Adoption 101

 
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Blended families are sometimes hard to navigate. The goal of the courts is to keep families intact. However, that is not always possible or the best scenario. Some biological parents make the decision that it would be in the best interest of the child for him or her to be adopted by their step-parent. In Tennessee, children may be adopted by a step-parent in a couple of ways.
  
  A biological parent's legal rights regarding and claim to a minor child must be terminated before a child may be adopted. This may be done involuntarily by a court or the parent may consent to the termination. In the case of involuntary termination, the court will look at whether the parent has abandoned the child, whether the parent has provided for the child, and whether the parent has established a relationship with the child, among other factors. In the case of consent to termination, the biological parent simply has to be included in the petition for adoption as a co-petitioner, along with the other biological parent and the step-parent. After all petitioners sign the petition in front of a notary, the petition may be filed with the court and a court date may be set.
   
   It is important for all parties to understand the results of termination of parental rights. The parent whose rights are being terminated will not be responsible for future support of the child, but will be responsible for any child support arrears owed before the adoption is finalized by a judge. The parent will also have no claim in the future to any property, inheritance, or benefits of the child. Alternatively, the child will no longer be entitled to any claim to any property, inheritance, or benefits of the parent.
   
   Once the adoption is finalized, the step-parent will be responsible for the child until the age of 18. At the request of the parties and upon approval of court, the child's last name may be changed to the last name of the step-parent.
   
   Step-parent adoption is a fairly easy process. In Tennessee, the required home study, 6 month waiting period and adopting parent class may be waived by the courts. If you are considering a step-parent adoption, contact us for help. We would be happy to assist you in the process. (615) 784-4800.
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Need Your Criminal Record Expunged? Here's How!

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For many people with a criminal record, their convictions affect future employment and business opportunities. For people charged with felonies, their criminal record prevents them from owning a firearm or traveling outside the country. Having a clean criminal record is also important due to many apartment and housing complexes requiring a background check before allowing a person to live there.

  In order to avoid all of the above obstacles, you should attempt to have your record expunged as soon as possible, depending on your case. Expungements in Tennessee are governed under the statute T.C.A. 40-32-101. This statute states that in order to be eligible for expungment, defendant must have:

  • No other convictions in any jurisdiction, 
  • Have completed all terms of probation, parole or imprisonment must be completed and 5 years must have lapsed since the completion of the sentence, 
  • Have met all conditions of release, 
  • Have a copy of the record of the conviction to be expunged, 
  • Have paid all fines, restitution and court costs, 
  • Conviction must be for a Class E felony included on the inclusion list or a misdemeanor not included on the exclusion list, and
  • A government issued ID. 
  The list of included and excluded offenses can be found on the Tennessee District Attorney's website: http://www.tndagc.com/expunge/Expungement%20Checklist.pdf.
 
  Once you find out if you are eligible for expungement, you must petition the court for an expungement.  A licensed attorney experienced in criminal law can assist you in having your criminal record expunged. Contact our office at (615) 784-4800 for assistance with your case.
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Establishing Paternity in TN

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It's a situation that we see too often: Parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule for a child and the father cannot see the child because he has no legal rights. A mother may move away with the child and the father disagrees but has no grounds to contest the move because he has no legal rights.

  In Tennessee, a mother's husband at the time of the birth of child is the legal father of that child, whether or not he is the biological father. If the mother and father are not married at the time of the child's birth, the parents may sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and have the father's name placed on the birth certificate. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and birth certificate, however, are not sufficient legal proof that a man is a child's father.

  If the parents were not married at the time of the child's birth and the father wants visitation and legal rights to the child, he must ask for an order of the court. A mother and father can agree to paternity and ask the court to establish the father's rights to the child. Alternatively, if they disagree, the father is entitled to a paternity test to prove he is the father of the child. Once the parties agree or a successful DNA test is complete, the court will produce an order of paternity and establish visitation and other legal rights.

  Establishing paternity is a very important step in being able to parent your child. Many fathers wait until there is an issue with visitation or support before they ask the court to establish them as the father's child. Due to the length of time this can take, a father may miss out on a significant portion of a child's life. If you were not married to your child's mother at the time of the child's birth and have never been legally declared the child's father, do not procrastinate in establishing paternity. We have successfully helped establish paternity for fathers in multiple counties and we would be happy to help you. Contact us with questions today at (615) 784-4800.

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Lower Expungement Fee

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In Tennessee, certain charges and convictions are eligible to be expunged, or erased, from your record…for a price. The previous fee to have your record expunged was $450.00. Many people could not afford to pay the expungement fee after having also paid court costs, fines and probation fees. Unfortunately for these individuals, charges and convictions would remain on their record simply because they did not have the funds required.

  Fortunately, that recently changed when Governor Haslam and the Tennessee Legislature reduced the expungement fee from $450.00 to $270.00. Hopefully this will make it easier for those with simple misdemeanors to start fresh with a clean record. Read more about the change here: http://www.newschannel5.com/news/haslam-signs-bill-reducing-costs-of-wiping-criminal-records

If you have questions about having your record expunged, call us at (615) 784-4801.

 

 

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New TN Laws – Will They Affect You?

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As of July 1, 2017, several new laws went into effect in Tennessee. Do any of the new laws affect you?

  • Penalties for being a convicted felon in possession of a gun can be increased, depending on the previous felony.
  • If you file for retroactive child support, you can only be awarded the prior 5 years’ child support unless the court finds good cause that another award is proper.
  • The offense of the unruly act of illegal use of a telecommunication device has been created. Watch what you do on your cell phone!
  • Don’t publicly release the residential address of a police officer. It’s a Class B Misdemeanor if negligent and a Class A Misdemeanor if intentional.
  • Property owners can put purple paint on their trees to serve as a no trespassing sign.

Read more here on all of the laws:

133 new Tennessee laws take effect July 1

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Do you know what a Living Will is?

Do you know what a Living Will is?

If I had to pick one legal document, after a Last Will and Testament, that was of the utmost importance, I would have to pick a Living Will.

A Last Will and Testament is the document we all know about wherein you decide how your assets will be devised upon your passing. A Living Will, on the other hand, is the document that determines how you will live at the end of your life.

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Uncontested Divorces - If your spouse has a lawyer, do you need an attorney?

Uncontested Divorces - If your spouse has a lawyer, do you need an attorney?

We often receive calls from people whose spouse has presented them with legal documents asking for a divorce. The divorce, however, is something they both want and all they have to do on their end is sign the papers they are presented with.

Do you sign them without consulting with an attorney? That's a tough call.

First know, it's extremely difficult to get those papers set aside once you sign them. Most Judges will not set them aside unless you can show you were under duress or there was fraud committed. Both are very hard to prove.

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What Are Grandparent Rights In Tennessee?

What Are Grandparent Rights In Tennessee?

We often are asked about Grandparent rights in Tennessee, and yes, grandparents do have the right to file for visitation in our state. They can also file for custody.

However, the standard for both is very high.

When it comes to custody, a grandparent can't just show that they can better care for their grandchildren. They must actually show both parents are unfit to parent. While difficult to prove, in this day and age where addictions are becoming rampant, we are successfully representing many more grandparents who are having to step in and raise their grandchildren.


 

Visitation, on the other hand, where the parents are both fit, is a completely different standard of law. In these cases we are required to prove that the grandchildren once had a significant relationship with their grandparent that was severed by the parent and that because of this severance the child will suffer substantial harm. It can be a difficult case to prove but often grandparents can meet this burden because they have, in fact, played a significant part of their grandchildren's lives.

Our office handles these cases and will be glad to evaluate your case with you to best determine if you have a cause of action and when the best time to file will be.

 

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Are We A Joint Custody State?

Are We A Joint Custody State?

I'm often asked if we are a joint custody state. The answer is we are not.

What we are, however, is a state that requires our courts to maximize parenting time between both parents. And in doing that, our courts must look at several factors including those that effect the parents as well as the children.

In order to determine what type of visitation schedule will be best for the child the court looks at each parent's living arrangements, their proximity to each other and their work schedules. The court also determines if the parents are making good life choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol, as well as the type of people they are spending their time with.

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Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

In Tennessee, our Courts will enforce Pre-Nuptial Agreements, but only if they meet certain legalcriteria. 

As a divorce attorney, I see many, many battles fought over bank accounts, retirement accounts and real estate people owned prior to marriage. Often, without thinking during the marriage your spouse’s name is put on your bank account or your home.

And when you divorce, it may be too late to undo and you just made separate property - marital.

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Marital & Separate Property

Marital & Separate Property

One of the most asked questions we hear is, what is considered marital property and what is considered separate property in Tennessee?

Marital Property

Most anything you and/or your spouse accumulated during the marriage is marital. It doesn’t matter whether or not you kept it in a separate account, didn’t put her name on the Deed or that his name is not on your Company 401k account. For the most part, if it was earned during the marriage (by either of you) – it is marital. And therefore, the Court can and will divide it.

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Custody & Visitation In Tennessee

Custody & Visitation In Tennessee

Technically, in Tennessee we no longer use the words custody or visitation. A few years back, the statutes were changed and now – you will see the words Primary Residential Parent and Parenting Time replacing those words.

However, the words are interchangeable.

The Primary Residential Parent is the parent with whom the children live the majority of the time. Parenting Time is the time either parent spends with the child.

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LEGALLY CHANGING YOUR NAME IN TENNESSEE

Sometimes you just don’t care for your given name. And in those cases, your name can be changed with a one-time Court appearance.

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CHILD SUPPORT IN TENNESSEE

Years ago, child support, in Tennessee was based on percentages of the non-custodial parent’s income. You paid 21% of your income for one child, 32% for two children and so on.

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FAILING TO ABIDE BY A COURT ORDER IN TENNESSEE

Your failure to abide by a Court Order can have dire consequences. The most traumatic of which can result in your being incarcerated by the Judge.

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