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Knoxville, Tennessee Family Law Blog

Benefits and drawbacks of virtual visitation

Some divorced parents in Tennessee may need to make an agreement with the other parent about a virtual visitation schedule. Virtual visitation refers to a parent's contact with a child via phone, email, instant messaging, Skype or any other technological means. Virtual visitation is most often used when one parent lives far away from the child.

Virtual visitation is regarded as similar enough to in-person visitation that a parent who will not be granted regular visitation rights is also unlikely to be allowed virtual visitation. However, it is supposed to act a supplement for contact between children and parents and not as a replacement.

Living accommodations may influence child custody decisions

Family law judges in Tennessee and around the country are guided by what they think is in the child's best interests when they make custody decisions, and this sometimes involves considering the standard of a parent's living conditions. Parents who do not live in brand new and pristine apartments or houses may still be awarded custody, but judges may be reluctant to place children in homes if they could find it difficult to adjust to their new environment, the home or the surrounding area is dangerous, or the accommodations do not provide enough privacy.

Safety will generally be a judge's primary concern, and custody may not be awarded even if the home is safe if the neighborhood is not. This is why parents who will be seeking custody of young children may be wise to check crime statistics before renting or buying a home. Privacy may become an issue if the home has only one bathroom that must be shared by boys and girls or the child will be sharing a bedroom with a far younger or far older sibling.

Gender alone won't influence a custody order

Fathers in Tennessee and throughout the country may be entitled to full custody of their children. However, this depends on the facts of the case, and a judge will need to determine if that is in the best interest of the child. In most cases, both parents share custody assuming that they are both fit to do so. It is also possible that a parent will obtain full legal custody while sharing or being denied physical custody.

It is important to note that a judge is not allowed to base a custody decision solely or primarily on a parent's gender. Therefore, fathers are not necessarily at a disadvantage when trying to obtain rights to their children. Of course, the mother may want to have full custody or to limit a father's rights, and she will be given a chance to present her case.

Grow your family by adopting a child into your life

You and your spouse have always wanted children, but over time, you've found that it's nearly impossible. You both struggle with fertility issues, and the likelihood of having a child of your own is low.

Now, you have the opportunity to adopt a child who needs a loving family and home to call their own. You want to make sure you can grow your family and fill that void you feel without a child, but you also need more information to make sure you're prepared.

Why custody orders could be modified

Parents in Tennessee may decide that they want to amend their current child custody arrangement. This may occur because of a breakdown in communication with the child's other parent or because there is reason to believe that the child's best interests are not being served. It is important to note that a court generally won't honor a request to change an agreement unless it is in the child's best interest to do so.

If a child is not in immediate danger, a court may choose to investigate an allegation of physical or emotional abuse before taking action. However, the court may still decide to make temporary changes to a custody agreement during such an investigation. A judge may want to know if a child is nervous to spend time with a parent or has witnessed someone else being abused.

About adoption in Tennessee

Adoption can be a complicated process. Tennessee residents who are considering adoption should fully understand the state's adoption requirements so that they know if they are legally qualified to adopt a child. The requirements to adopt a child exist so that children can be housed in safe and stable homes that are ready to accept a child.

In order to be eligible to adopt, individuals have to be at least 18 years and a resident of the state for a minimum of six consecutive months. In cases in which there are certain relative adoptions or residents of Tennessee who are stationed outside of the state with the military, exceptions may be allowed.

The importance of understanding family finances in divorce

Understanding the family finances can be important for people in Tennessee who are going into a divorce, particularly if they are parents. In some families, one spouse may primarily handle the finances. A spouse who is unfamiliar with marital finances may want to hold off on discussing the divorce until they get copies of some paperwork. Otherwise, the other spouse might make financial records difficult to obtain.

Running a credit report may help a person get a record of debt. This could include a mortgage and credit card debt. The person should also know what the family's monthly expenses are. This will be useful when calculating how much child support is likely to be. Parents should be sure to include the cost of childcare. There could be additional expenses as well, such as medical expenses or contributions to a 529 account for the child's education.

Children after a divorce

Children in Tennessee whose parents are divorced should be protected from any animosity between their parents. Parents should avoid speaking ill of their ex-spouse in the presence of the children. There is no need for the children to hear about how one or both parents were unfaithful, asked for the divorce or misbehaved in some way. No matter what age they are, children are likely to feel guilty if they cannot love both of their parents.

Parents can further protect their children after a divorce by making sure that the children know that they bear no responsibility for the divorce or the events that led up to it. It should be stressed to the children that there was nothing that they could have done or said to prevent the divorce from occurring and nothing they can do to correct it.

Both parents have financial responsibility for their children

In the majority of child support cases in Tennessee, the custodial parent is the mother, and the father pays child support. The law generally requires that the parent who pays child support does so until the child attains the age of majority, becomes an active-duty member of the military or is emancipated by a court of appropriate jurisdiction. The required payments may also cease if the payor parent's rights are terminated, such as by adoption.

Both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children. When a child custody decision is made, the person who is granted physical custody typically does not have child support obligations. The noncustodial parent may be ordered to make support payments to fulfill his or her financial obligations. In cases where the parents have joint custody, the amount of child support payments is usually calculated based on the percentage of time each parent has actual physical custody.

The unique pitfalls of a high-asset divorce in Tennessee

Any Tennessee divorce can be difficult, but high-asset divorce cases involving individuals with high net worths can be particularly troublesome to navigate. You might imagine that having more money would make going through a divorce easier, but it can make the whole process more convoluted, difficult and expensive.

The more assets you and your spouse shared during marriage, the more incentive you and your ex have to fight over those possessions as you end your legal union. The possessions themselves can often present an issue, as there may not be a straightforward way to divide more complicated financial assets or to put an accurate value on items like art or jewelry.

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