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Montgomery County Divorce Law Blog

Did a pattern of non-stop arguing result in your divorce?

Arguing is toxic. If you can't stop arguing with your spouse, then you are familiar with just how toxic these patterns can be. You get home from work, you notice your spouse left the milk out on the counter again, you ask why, and suddenly a two-hour argument ensues and it only ends when you decide to lock yourself in the bathroom. When these kinds of situations are happening on a daily basis, it's time to seek help from a marriage counselor or simply bring your marriage to a close through divorce.

Here are two argument patterns spouses need to watch out for:

How do parents support each other's relationships with the child?

Good co-parents will always encourage their children to have love for the other parent, and they will never speak ill of the other parent in front of the child. However, as much as this is true, and as much as parents say they agree with it, they might not always be true to these precepts in their actions.

For this reason, parents may want to include specific language within their parenting agreements that requires the other parent to adhere to certain standards of decency when it comes to preserving the sacredness of the child's relationship with the other parent.

Establishing paternity: 3 viable strategies

The joy of fatherhood is a gift to be cherished and revered, but not all fathers have the legal right to spend time with their children. In some cases, for example, a mother will deny that someone is the father, so she can raise the child on her own. In these cases, the biological father may be able to fight in court to establish his child custody rights. In the modern era of genetic testing, this process is, fortunately, a lot easier than it was in the past.

How to establish paternity in the case of two unmarried parents:

Can you get alimony if your ex struggles to make ends meet?

After a divorce, one spouse might get alimony until he or she gains the means to be adequately self-sufficient. For instance, if you took a nine-year break from the workforce to raise children, you may need a year or two to get job training or other educational credentials. Alimony can help pay for that.

However, what if your spouse barely makes ends meet as it is? Is there some way you can get the funds you need to become more independent?

Can I change my child support orders?

Whether you're the "paying" parent or the "receiving" parent, your child support orders are not set in stone. Imagine your child contracted a serious and costly illness, for example. You might be able to file an appeal to the family law court to adjust your spouse's child support payments to better reflect a fair reimbursement to cover the costs of your child's illness.

Here are just a few circumstances in which a court might grant a request for a child support modification:

  • You or your ex have experienced a substantial change in the amount of income you're earning -- either for better or for worse. If, for example, your ex is earning substantially more money, you might not need to pay him or her as much child support. Or, if you're earning substantially more, your ex might demand an increase to the amount you owe.
  • You contract a serious or debilitating medical condition that leaves you disabled and unable to work. If you can't work and earn a living anymore, the court will not expect you to continue paying the same level of child support.
  • Your child's circumstances change. If your child -- for any number of reasons -- requires more or less money for his or her care, this could be a basis for a child support modification request.

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.

The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
503 Madison St.
Clarksville, TN 37040

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