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Mr. (Big)amy:

I think that every attorney has that one case early in their career that makes them scratch their head and wonder just how a particular client's predicament came to be. For me, I was fresh out of law school and within my first month of practice was presented with a convoluted family law case in which my client, who we'll call Mr. Big, lived abroad, his current wife was believed to be living in Tennessee, and the couple hadn't seen or spoken to one another in over five years.

Notwithstanding the obvious international complications of the case, my client was actually seeking an annulment of the marriage to his second wife in Tennessee because he had knowingly failed to properly divorce his first wife in a different state, so that he could legally marry his third soon-to-be wife in another country. Oy! This case, though strange as it was, forced me to learn about an area of law that has implications in both the domestic and criminal arenas.

Major changes to past-due child support laws by The Tennessee General Assembly

The Tennessee General Assembly recently enacted a major change to laws concerning past-due child support by substantially limiting the amount of overdue child support that can be awarded. The new law limits backdating unpaid child support to five years from the date an action to collect unpaid support is filed. For example, if a non-custodial parent has failed to pay child support for ten years, the custodial parent can only seek to collect unpaid child support for the first five years before they filed their action with the court. The other five years support that went unpaid, years six through ten, would generally be uncollectible. Previously, a custodial parent could seek to collect unpaid child support dating back to the child's birth date. For actions filed after July 1, 2017, this is no longer the case.

Terminating parental rights for adoption

It takes a special individual or pair of individuals to want to raise a child that is not theirs biologically. To invest time and love in a child, and then have it taken away, is devastating. That is why many parents pursuing adoption choose to seek termination of the birth parents' parental rights.

Terminating those rights removes any legal tie to the child and allows the adoptive parents to provide a permanent, stable and loving home. In such instances, there are a few important things to understand about the termination process.

Parental Rights of Same-Sex Couples in TN

In Tennessee, and across America as a whole, domestic law seeks to ensure that parental rights are protected and also that the child's best interest is met. With respect to parental choices concerning their child's upbringing and well-being, laws concerning parental rights seek to champion parents as the superior authority in their child's life as means to a beneficial end. In parental right's cases, the authority given to the parents of a child must be distinct and well-defined.

In 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the law would recognize the legal legitimacy of same sex-marriages. Assumedly, this landmark decision would also extend to protect the rights of same-sex parents. However, because of a spectrum of world views and advancements in reproductive rights, there have been a myriad of cases that made this issue less than clear. For example, in Tennessee, a non-biological parent of a heterosexual couple can be given parental rights to a child born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement, yet until last week, there remained much controversy as to whether or not these same rights could extend to children born by artificial means to spouses in same-sex marriages.

Child Visitation and Custody in Tennessee

Child visitation rights are never something taken lightly by courts, and parties should never be afraid to pursue the proper legal remedies to make sure their rights are enforced. No matter the locale, courts generally abide by the belief that it is in the best interests of a child to spend time with both parents, and this certainly holds true in Tennessee. Because of the importance that courts place on the child's best interest when determining custody arrangements, child visitation rights can rarely, if ever, be legally denied by the custodial parent.

Landlord Tenant Blog Article - Eviction

Eviction is a process no renter ever wants to endure and no landlord wants to have to pursue. Therefore, it is extremely important that both tenants and landlords, alike, understand their rights in order to avoid such stressful situations. With a general knowledge of how to prevent and deal with issues that arise in a lease agreement, tenants can arm themselves against the occasional overbearing landlord, and landlords can, in turn, protect themselves and their property against tenants who fail to pay their rent or break some other term of the lease agreement.

Sexting: Is it a crime in Tennessee?

Earlier this month, lawmakers finally passed a sexting bill in Tennessee to modernize the antiquated law as it relates to minors. In a world where social media and cell phones are prevalent, teens communicate primarily via some form of electronic communication. It is quick, easy, and provides the ability to express your opinions to a large following. The downside; however, is once it is sent or submitted, it remains in the cyber world forever. As electronic communication has grown to be the primary means of communication between the younger generations, incidents of sexting, or sending sexually explicit photos via text or email have become widespread.

Familiar things help your child adjust to two homes

After a divorce, there will be two households, and your child will spend time in both. While he will likely think of the residence of the principal parent as “home,” you will want to ensure that a comfort level is firmly established in the new household. Familiar belongings along with some familiar routines will help your child adjust.

Age will have much to do with the way your child reacts to the divorce, and you may have to contend with everything from fear and insecurity to outright anger. Enabling a child to feel at ease in both homes will help in the healing process.

Annulment is fundamentally different from divorce

Annulment is a process by which a marriage is declared void from the beginning through judicial action. This is fundamentally different from divorce proceedings, in which a marriage is terminated on the date of judgment on the dissolution of marriage. An annulment essentially means that a valid marriage never truly existed at all.

What are my rights as an unwed Father?

For married couples, Father's parental legal rights are established as soon as the child is born. In fact, if married, Father and Mother have equal legal rights to the child. However, this is not the case for unwed parents. Unwed fathers must take additional steps to establish paternity to protect his legal rights and to be able to exercise co-parenting time with the Child should his relationship with Mother become rocky.

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