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Making college plans for children in a divorce

Tennessee parents who are getting a divorce may want to include language in the settlement agreement that deals with how they will pay for their children's college education. There are a number of elements that should be addressed.

The agreement should be as specific as possible. For example, it should list what will be covered, such as tuition, books, laptops and meal plans. Parents who are unsure about the exact monetary contribution they will be able to make should not give a dollar amount since the agreement is legally binding. The agreement may also state where the funds for college will come from, such as a 529. Parents should consider what will happen if the children decide not to attend college, want to take a year off or want to study abroad. The agreement should also say how long the child will be supported since college usually lasts past the end of child support. Parents should set guidelines for estimated expenses.

How child support is handled in joint custody situations

Sharing custody of children does not necessarily mean that neither parent pays child support. States have different ways of determining child support when custody is shared. In Tennessee, calculating child support takes both parents' income into account when they have joint custody. The calculation for joint custody uses how much time the child spends at each parent's home to reach a final figure. This approach varies from state to state, and some states will not calculate child support for parents who share custody.

In some cases, parents may avoid this by simply having a verbal agreement regarding child custody. However, there are benefits to making sure parents pay child support. It can be better for a child's well-being and help with a child's overall adjustment.

Divorcing with an adopted child: Tips for helping them cope

When you and your spouse decided to adopt a child, it never crossed your mind that you'd get a divorce. The trials of parenthood, along with other changes in your life, did become difficult to deal with as a couple, though. Apart, you work well, but together, you're not in a good position.

You don't want to hurt your child, and you're worried you will with the divorce, but there is no other option in your mind. Your child is adopted, but you don't want that to hold you back from moving into a better situation and giving them a better life as well. What should you do?

Steps a parent can take to regain child custody

Losing custody of a child, as some Tennessee parents know, is a painful experience that might make a parent believe all is hopeless. While it is difficult to accept that a court has taken custody away and granted it to an ex, another relative or the foster care system, there are steps a parent can take to prove to the court that a child belongs with them.

Once a parent loses custody, the first thing they can do is evaluate the situation to understand why the judge made their decision. Some of the reasons might include a court order violation or an accusation of child abuse or neglect. Understanding the reasons for the decision will help the parent prepare to fight to regain custody. In some cases, regaining child custody will depend on contingencies ordered by the court, such as attending parenting classes, receiving treatment for alcohol or drug addiction or seeking counseling. Even before beginning the process of petitioning the court for custody again, the contingencies should be met as arguing about them just wastes time and delays the process.

Britney Spears settles child custody dispute with ex-husband

Most divorced couples in Tennessee are well-aware of the fact that ending a marriage doesn't mean an end to parenting responsibilities. In situations when one spouse earns significantly more than the other former partner, child support is often sought. Other times, an increase in support is sought if it's believed that the amount granted isn't sufficient. This, in a nutshell, is what has been at the heart of the ongoing child support battle between Britney Spears and ex-husband Kevin Federline.

Following their divorce, the couple had reached an agreement in which Spears agreed to pay $20,000 a month so her ex could help support their two sons. However, he contended that the life he was able to provide for his children was far from equal to what his higher-earning former spouse was able to provide. Initially, Spears' father offered the singer's ex-husband an additional $10,000 a month. The offer was declined and additional legal action was pursued.

Child custody and interference with visitation

Many Tennessee divorced parents have primary physical custody of their children, and the other parent may be granted visitation as specified by the court. After a custody case has been decided, custodial parents are not free to cut the other parent out of their children's lives for good. Each parent has a duty to foster a healthy relationship between the children and the other parent. Failure to do so can result in the case being brought back to court.

The case between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt highlights the importance of this. Jolie has been ordered by a judge to foster the children's relationship with their father or risk losing primary custody. She was previously ordered to share the cellphone numbers for each of the couple's six children with their father and has been banned from reading messages sent to the children by him.

Continuing to co-parent during a divorce

There are a number of reasons that parents in Tennessee need to be able to work together effectively during and after a divorce. Effective co-parenting helps children feel that they are loved by and able to communicate with both parents and reduces their stress level. It also models good conflict resolution for children.

There are a few steps parents can take. One is creating a parenting agreement. By putting such an agreement in writing, parents can take some of the emotion out of the arrangement and make it more businesslike. There are several points that are usually addressed in a parenting plan. These include when the child is with each parent, when exchanges occur and where the child spends holidays. The plan may also address how parents communicate, how decisions are made, how conflict is resolved and what will happen if the plan needs to be changed.

Could your marriage benefit from a new postnuptial agreement?

Some people view the creation of a prenuptial agreement as inherently crass. After all, how does it benefit the start of a marriage to plan for a worst-case scenario? A prenuptial agreement is essentially an attempt to negotiate the terms of a divorce before you even get married. Some people might consider this planning for failure.

However, with the divorce rate relatively high and more couples sharing the fiscal responsibilities of wage-earning in a marriage, prenuptial agreements are not as rare or unusual as they once were. Young couples, in particular, are more likely to seek the protections of a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot.

What happens when child custody cases go to court

Parents in Tennessee who are going through a divorce might wonder what will happen at the child custody hearing and how best to prepare for it. The courtroom in which these types of hearings is held is generally smaller than others, and fewer people are present than in other types of courtroom proceedings.

Parents should dress conservatively. They should also be ready to answer a number of questions from the judge that will focus on the child's well-being. For example, the judge may ask about a parent's ability to provide emotional support. Some questions may be prompted by a parent's particular situation. If the parent works full time, the judge might ask what kind of child care arrangements have been made for the times when the child is out of school. Parents may also want to bring witnesses who can testify about their parenting skills. This might be teachers, child care providers or others. Children who are old enough to take part in the decision might also testify.

Making the school year a success for children after divorce

Tennessee parents know that young children will experience a wide range of emotions with the start of each new school year. There is a sense of excitement about starting something new as well as a sense of apprehension that comes from facing the unknown, including new friends, new teachers and new subjects. This sense of apprehension may be amplified for children who are under a shared custody arrangement. However, parents can mitigate some of this apprehension by using the last days of the summer vacation to help their children focus on what to expect for the next school year.

In order to do this, both parents must put aside animosity and work together for the best interests of their children. This means deciding things like what they want their children to get out of their classroom experiences during the school year. This goes beyond academic learning. Parents should work together in deciding what extracurricular activities they will want their children to be involved in. At the same time, the ex-spouses should come up with a united plan of attack to help their children address any challenges they may face along the way.

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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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