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Knoxville, Tennessee Family Law Blog

The adoption process for same-sex couples

Same-sex couples can generally adopt children in Tennessee and all other states. However, it may still be illegal for those in same-sex relationships to adopt children from some foreign countries. Regardless of where the adoption is taking place, the couple may need to be in a relationship that has legal recognition in the child's birth country.

The first part of the adoption process requires a couple to provide information about their home life and how they will provide for the child. This can be done by submitting photos of a shared residence or any other evidence that they are worthy of adopting and raising a child. This information will be shown to a child's birth mother or current guardian to help decide who will care for the child. A home study will also be conducted to confirm that the child will grow up in a secure and nurturing environment.

Genetic testing changes the face of adoption

For Tennessee residents who are thinking about adoption, the rise of genetic testing available in direct-to-consumer kits has changed older ideas about confidentiality and secrecy. In the past, birth parents could place a child for adoption anonymously, in a closed process. In this type of adoption, the child or adoptive family would know little about how to contact the biological parents. While there were abuses associated with the closed adoption system and many parents had moved toward more open adoptions, that process has been changed through the use of at-home DNA kits.

An increasing number of people are learning about previously hidden histories of adoption or finding their biological relatives through the use of test kits. By sending a saliva sample to one of the testing companies and paying the required fee, people can submit their information to a database, receiving reports of biological matches and relatives scattered around the world. If any relative has taken a similar DNA test in the past, a person will find matches. This means that kids who were placed for adoption could find their biological family members.

Your standard of living may impact your right to spousal support

Spousal support is affected by many factors. One of those factors is your standard of living during your marriage. Of course, most people understand that maintaining the same standard of living after a divorce is unlikely, since it always costs more to live independently than as a couple.

In some cases, the standard of living you're used to in marriage makes a more significant impact on your spousal support options than others. For example, if you and your spouse were extremely wealthy, it would be unfair for the higher-earning spouse to walk away with the same standard of living while the other spouse is relegated to a low standard of living.

State changes adoption policy

Individuals in Tennessee and throughout the country who wish to become adoptive or foster parents generally have the right to do so. Typically, an individual must show that he or she is able to care for a child. In many cases, the sexual orientation of the prospective parent doesn't influence whether he or she can have the child. However, some adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against same-sex individuals based on religious grounds.

The state of Michigan has decided that it will no longer work with agencies that place children in its custody in foster homes or with adoptive parents. This assumes that the parents are otherwise fit to take care of them. However, the state will not be able to take action against agencies that discriminate against same-sex couples while engaging in private placement or other actions.

Good reasons to get a prenuptial agreement

Getting married is generally cause for excitement for Tennessee residents who are planning their weddings. However, it is important to not let the excitement interfere with efforts to plan for after the wedding comes and goes. While a prenuptial agreement may not be the most romantic part of married life, it is a critical step on the road to marriage. As no one can predict what the future holds, some say it's a good idea to account for as many scenarios as possible.

For instance, such an agreement can stipulate who is responsible for paying a debt or who is entitled to receive an asset if a divorce occurs. In addition to creating a prenuptial agreement, it's a good idea to create a will and meet with an accountant before tying the knot. Creating a will allows a couple to decide who should take care of the kids if they both pass on as well as various issues related to beneficiaries.

Prenuptial agreements mandated by Modern Orthodox rabbis

Prenuptial agreements are growing more popular in Tennessee and across the United States. While many people think of prenups as solely a matter for celebrities or the ultra-rich, couples can use prenups to address situations that fit their own unique needs. As more people marry later in life with advanced careers, they may need to clarify their business interests and properties in a document. However, prenuptial agreements can address a wide range of concerns. Approximately 84 percent of Modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States require prenups that aim to prevent the use of a religious divorce as a bargaining chip.

Under Jewish religious law, a husband must give his wife a bill of divorce, or a "get," for the divorce to be considered legally valid. Women who have not received the get cannot remarry religiously until they receive this document. Some husbands refuse to give their wives the get; in most cases, this is an attempt to extract certain demands in terms of property division or child custody in the civil divorce process. As a result of this problem and demands from Orthodox women for a solution that fits with religious law, rabbis developed a prenuptial agreement that mandates extensive financial support for a wife if the husband fails to provide the get.

Why prenups are popular among younger people

Although prenuptial agreements may seem a bit unromantic, they can be beneficial for many Tennessee residents. They are especially popular with younger Americans who have experienced a lower level of job and financial security compared to other generations. Millennial women are earning more than females in previous generations, which means that they want to protect their assets in the event of a divorce.

More younger women are also becoming the financial providers their households, which may increase their chances of paying alimony if a relationship ends. However, individuals of both genders may have assets or debts that they want to protect in a marriage. Ultimately, a prenup allows individuals to not feel as if they are financially trapped in a relationship that they may not want to be involved with anymore in the future.

Managing finances when preparing for a remarriage

A previously married bride or groom preparing to walk down the aisle again in Tennessee may have accumulated a lot of assets. For this reason, there is usually a need for individuals to protect accumulated assets and children from previous relationships in the event of divorce or death. It's generally suggested that someone planning a remarriage give themselves enough time prior to exchanging vows to identify their priorities and set immediate and long-term financial goals.

Remarriage plans may also include prenuptial agreements, which can dictate such details as the division of assets and liabilities should a subsequent marriage end. Contrary to popular belief, it's a document that can actually provide important safeguards for both parties, regardless of who brings what into the marriage. With a remarriage, there's often a need to address previous obligations and arrangements involving such things as debt payments, alimony, college tuition funds for children from a prior marriage and other expenses from previous lives.

No, your prenuptial agreement can't affect your child's custody

You have a prenuptial agreement, and it talks about what would happen if you and your spouse divorce but have children together. Of course, at the time it was created, you didn't think much about it. You didn't think you'd want to have children, but now that you do have them, it worries you that your prenuptial agreement states how their lives will be handled in the case of a divorce.

Since you don't agree with some of the terms of the prenuptial agreement, your main question is if it's legal. While some of the prenuptial agreement may be legal, the likelihood is that anything related to your child isn't. Why? Prenuptial agreements aren't allowed to include decisions regarding custody or child support.

Why couples should consider prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements can be ideal for those getting married in Tennessee and other states. This is true regardless of how wealthy they may be. One potential benefit of a prenuptial agreement is that it solidifies the terms under which a divorce will take place. They can also be used to determine what happens to student loan or other debt held by one person but paid off using the other's funds. The agreement could state that the other spouse is entitled to compensation or other considerations in exchange for the financial assistance.

It isn't uncommon for couples to have pets during the course of their relationship. If a divorce occurs, it may be possible for a couple to write out ahead of time what happens to the animals. As with a child custody agreement, it can be as flexible or narrow as the couple wants it to be. However, unlike a child custody agreement, it likely won't be upheld or enforced by a court.

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Law Office of Lisa Collins Werner 9724 Kingston Pike, Suite 1101 Knoxville, TN 37922 Phone: 865-973-9286 Fax: 865-691-0025 Knoxville Law Office Map

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