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January 2018 - Marijuana legislation update

With the New Year bringing about myriad possibilities, many will turn their attention to the arrival of the new legislative season. For Tennesseans, and those in a majority of other states, the issue of marijuana and its place in our society has become quite salient which demands to be addressed by both the federal and state governments. The first week of January has seen both California and Vermont vote and enact legislation that would allow for the distribution of medical or recreational marijuana, raising the total of states in which medical marijuana is legal to twenty-nine.

Current deliberations over legislation concerning marijuana in Tennessee rest upon State Senator Seven Dickerson and Representative Jeremy Faison, who are tasked with overseeing a committee designed to study and report on the impact of medical marijuana on the state of Tennessee. This committee has been constructed to allow for expert medical and legal opinion and testimonials that will be utilized to draft potential new legislation and regulations surrounding the drug itself.

Appellate Update: Personal Signature of Party Not Required in Parental Termination Cases

In the case in re Bentley D., the Tennessee Court of Appeals considered an appeal of the judgment terminating a father's parental rights in which the father appealing the final order did not personally sign the Notice of Appeal. Upon filing, the Court of Appeals ordered the father to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because of his failure to personally sign the notice of appeal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-124(d), which states, "Any notice of appeal filed in a termination of parental rights action shall be signed by the appellant." The father filed a response to the show cause order, which included a challenge to the constitutionality of the statute at issue. The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that an appeal of the judgment terminating a parent's rights submitted within thirty days without the father's signature was untimely, and dismissed the father's appeal.

Understanding conspiracy charges in Tennessee

Crimes occur on a daily basis, and those involved in them stand to face judgment for their actions. Even if a crime does not pan out as expected, if an individual commits conspiracy, it is still a criminal charge that may result in harsh penalties.

If you or a loved one face criminal conspiracy charges, you must understand what they entail to choose the best route for you. There are a few key things to understand about these charges in the state of Tennessee.

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.

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