Kane & Crowell

The official blog of Kane & Crowell, a Lebanon, Tennessee Law Office.

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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Can a parent voluntarily give up all rights to his or her child?

Can a parent voluntarily give up all rights to his or her child?

I often have a parent (usually a mother) contact me and state that the other parent wants to give up his rights to his child and have no more obligations to that child. Can a parent voluntarily give up all rights to his or her child? The answer is not a simple one. If the parent has been established as the biological or legal parent of a child, that parent cannot simply relinquish his parental rights so that he or she no longer has a duty of support.

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Do I have to agree to divide parenting time 50-50 with my soon-to-be former spouse?

Do I have to agree to divide parenting time 50-50 with my soon-to-be former spouse?

Recent revisions to the divorce laws in Tennessee require the courts to attempt to maximize the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child or children in fashioning a parenting plan. Sometimes the judge will decide that this means that a 50-50 division of time will accomplish this goal; however, there are many factors that a judge must take into account in determining a parenting schedule, and the most important is always the best interests of the child. You do not have to agree to any division of parenting time that you do not believe is in your child or children’s best interests. A good divorce attorney can help you determine what is likely to happen in court based upon the circumstances of your case, your children’s specific needs, and the usual preferences of the judge who will ultimately decide your matter.

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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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YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT...

Everyone has heard those memorable words on any given cop or detective show.

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GIRLFRIENDS AND BOYFRIENDS DURING AND AFTER A DIVORCE

During the pendency of a divorce, it is unlikely the Judge will allow you to take your children around your boyfriend or girlfriend. Often children are just getting used to the fact that their parents are no longer going to be together and introducing a new adult into the picture, can greatly complicate matters.

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At-Will Employment

At-Will Employment

Tennessee is an At-Will Employment state. That means you can be fired for cause or no cause at any time.

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Evictions in Tennessee

Evictions in Tennessee

Our office mainly represents Landlords in Landlord/Tenant disputes. And, if you are a Landlord that we represent, we have prepared an airtight lease agreement on your behalf.

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TENNESSEE SMALL CLAIMS COURT

We receive several calls a day regarding “small claims court.” The Court most people are referring to when they call about this, is General Sessions Civil Court.

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WHAT DOCUMENTS DO YOU NEED FOR PROPER ESTATE PLANNING?

When a client meets with me about Estate Planning, after some discussion, I usually find that they need the following documents for proper estate planning; a Will, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

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PRELIMINARY HEARING OR NO PRELIMINARY HEARING … THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Every criminal case commenced in General Sessions court in Tennessee, be it Theft of Property, a Drug case, DUI, Assault or any other such crime (felony or misdemeanor) offers the Defendant the option of having a Preliminary Hearing. Though such a hearing may look like a trial to a lay person, it is not.

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STEP-PARENT AND FAMILIAL ADOPTIONS

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job often entails helping Step-parents and/or Grandparents or other family members adopt.

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