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Montgomery County Divorce Law Blog

How does cheating affect a divorce in Tennessee?

Every state has different laws when it comes to the specifics of divorce. In some states, if one spouse cheated on the other, this factor does not affect the divorce proceedings or outcome one way or the other. However, in Tennessee, cheating can have an effect on a divorce case.

If you are facing a divorce and either you cheated on your spouse or your spouse cheated on you, you should understand the basics of Tennessee divorce law in your case. Although only a qualified divorce attorney can fully evaluate your situation, here is some basic information that can give you a head start before you have a legal consultation.

Who's the primary caretaker of my children?

The question of who served as primary caretaker of your children during your marriage is an important one when it comes to the resolution of child custody disputes. If your dispute were to go to trial, for example, a family law court would likely give more weight and power to the person it deems to be the "primary caretaker."

What does "primary caretaker" mean in the context of a child custody dispute? This term refers to the person who performed the majority of the child care tasks. The primary caretaker was probably the parent who did most of the following tasks:

  • Prepare the children for school in the morning.
  • Prepare lunches for the children.
  • Make sure the children's hygienic needs are taken care of.
  • Drive the children to school and pick them up from day care.
  • Prepare dinner for the children.
  • Read the children bedtime stories and tuck them in at night.
  • Take the children on fun and educational outings during free time.
  • Help the children with their homework.
  • Take the children to medical appointments.
  • Spend time with the children.
  • Discipline the children and teach them good values.

Parenting provisions that keep parents up-to-date on contact info

The addresses and contact information of you and your co-parent will no doubt change over the course of raising your child. As a single parent, it's important that you have the ability to contact the other parent at any time. As such, any changes to one parent's contact information need to be given to the other parent as soon as possible.

To ensure that this takes place, the parents may want to include the following provisions in their parenting plan:

  • The parents agree that if their contact information should change, such as their cellphone numbers, their email addresses or their physical addresses, they will tell the other parent and provide the new contact information within at least seven days.
  • The parents agree to keep the following contact information current between them at all times: residential addresses, work addresses, mailing addresses, home phone numbers, cellphone numbers and work phone numbers.
  • Both parents agree that they will not harass one another with the contact information they have. In other words, they cannot invade the peace of the other parent, nor invade the other parent's privacy. Furthermore, they cannot use the contact information to harass, annoy or disturb the other parent.

The role of mediation in a Tennessee divorce

If you are beginning a contested divorce in Tennessee, you will likely end up having to try resolving disputed issues through mediation. Tennesee law requires court-ordered mediation for most contested divorces.

For many divorcing couples, mediation can offer several advantages over a full-scale court battle. Everyone is different, and contested divorces tend to present a variety of issues, so be sure to discuss your concerns and goals with your attorney.

How to address custody exchanges in a parenting plan

When both parents are responsible and show up for their child custody exchanges on time, without making last-minute changes and adjustments, the co-parenting relationship will run a lot smoother and be less complicated. However, not all parents will be responsible enough to adhere to the preplanned details relating to child exchanges. For this reason, parents may want to include some specific guidelines within the parenting plan. These guidelines will ensure that the other parent acts responsibly when it comes to the way child exchanges are carried out.

  1. Specify who can help carry out exchanges other than the parents. Do specific grandparents, family friends or other relatives have permission to help drop off and pick up the children?
  2. Who will transport the child to the exchange location and who will transport the child from the exchange location?
  3. Where will exchanges occur and on what days? Will it happen at one of the parent's residences on a specific day? Will it happen at a different parent's residence on another day? Will the parents meet in the middle somewhere convenient? Will the exchange happen when one of the parents pick the child up at school?
  4. Include a plan for how the parents will communicate and come to an agreement if the exchange procedure needs to change.
  5. Include language that explains what will happen if one of the parents is late. Perhaps, if the parent is ten minutes late to pick up his or her child, then the visitation or exchange is deemed to be canceled and the parenting time of the other parent will be voided for that week.

Do you want to create an appropriate parenting plan for your family? Study your legal rights and options under state family law to determine the parenting plan and child custody arrangements that fit you and your family's current circumstances.

3 questions to ask before a child relocation request

There are many reasons why a parent may wish to relocate to another state with his or her child. These might include the offer of a lucrative new job, living closer to friends and family in another part of the country or just to make a fresh start at life in a place you've wanted to live for a long time.

Your ability to gain court approval of your relocation, however, will depend on a variety of factors. Here are several vital issues that will pertain to every child relocation:

  • What kind of child custody do you have? If you have full physical and legal custody of your child, you may have an easier time relocating. However, if the other parent has visitation rights, and the relocation interferes with a court-ordered visitation plan, you may need to gain the approval of other parent of your child if you wish to relocate.
  • Does the other parent approve of the relocation? Depending on the other parent's parental rights, he or she could have the legal right to stop any kind of child relocation. However, the other parent might see the wisdom in your desire to relocate. It's always best to first approach the other parent with your relocation request to see if you can negotiate a new custody or visitation plan.
  • Is the move in the best interest of your child? Ultimately, if the other parent disagrees with the move, you may need to prove why the relocation is in the best interest of your child. Perhaps it's because you have more family support there, or you have been hired for a more lucrative job.

Military marriages and domestic violence

Every marriage has its problems, but the challenges can be unique when one or both spouses are in the military. Unfortunately, as you may have experienced, domestic violence can also be an issue in military marriages. Members of the armed forces are under a great deal of stress, with deployments and frequent moves further straining a marriage. This does not mean you or other Tennessee residents should put up with abuse in your marriage, however.

Statistics show that domestic violence among military couples is increasing throughout the United States. How does military life complicate abuse, you may wonder? The following factors can clarify:

  • Military spouses often have access to weapons in their homes or bases, including firearms.
  • Members of the armed forces know how to handle a weapon, as well as how to utilize their combat training to cause harm to a victim and avoid harm to themselves.
  • Combat situations can cause or exacerbate emotional and mental trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, and may contribute to domestic violence in the home.

Stay-at-home parents and divorce

If you're planning a divorce and you're a stay-at-home parent, you're probably concerned about your ability to stay financially afloat and your ability to support your children after you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse go your separate ways. In many cases, stay-at-home parents shouldn't need to concern themselves about falling into poverty after their divorces conclude. In fact, many stay-at-home parents can pursue alimony or spousal maintenance payments in their divorce proceedings.

Your ability to pursue spousal maintenance successfully will depend on the answers to the following questions:

Special needs children and child custody

State family law courts are beginning to support the idea of joint 50/50 child custody more and more. In these arrangements, children divide their time living with each parent half of the time. Many children adapt well to these arrangements and enjoy spending as much time as they can with both parents, but other children may have difficulty with this kind of schedule.

From a purely logistical perspective, for example, a child with special needs may require one home base. For example, a child with a severe disability may need to have special equipment at home to ensure his or her health and well-being. Perhaps the parent needs to modify the home so it's accessible to the child. While two homes could be modified, health insurance is not likely to pay for such additional modifications.

Family care plans for military service personnel

If you're a single parent serving in the armed forces, or if both you and your spouse are service members, you need to create a "family care plan" that maps out how your children will receive care in the event of your deployment. As a part of your military family care plan, there are three things you need to codify:

Who is the short-term caretaker?

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