Author: sscott

Military Retirement: What Spouses Need to Know

In non-military divorces in Tennessee, a spouse may be awarded some, or all of the other spouse’s retirement accounts. Each spouse is entitled to an equitable interest in the marital portion of any retirement account, therefore, under normal circumstances. Military retirement plans may be an exception to that rule. Members of the various military branches of service may retire after a specified period of service and receive retired pay. The monthly amount of retired pay is based on the years of service and rank. Veterans may also be eligible for additional benefits including disability benefits. In order to prevent double dipping, however, a military retiree may receive disability benefits only to the extent that he or she waives a corresponding amount of their military retirement pay. Disability benefits are exempt from federal, state and local taxes. Military retirement benefits are not. This means many military retirees will, if at all possible, choose to waive their retirement pay in favor of disability benefits in order to increase their after-tax income. But what does this have to do with a military spouse in a divorce case? Quite a bit. As a general rule, a spouse is entitled to share in retirement pay which is a marital asset. On the other hand, a spouse is generally not entitled to a share of post-divorce disability payments. Federal law controls military benefits. Federal law...

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What Happens to Summer Break with My Children When I Am Divorced?

Many years ago the alternate residential parent, often the father, would have visitation with the children every other weekend, split up the holidays and receive a couple of weeks’ time for vacation in the summer. That is no longer the case here in middle Tennessee. A judge’s job is to do what is in the best interest of children of divorcing parents. The controlling law, however, tells judges that they are to maximize the time of each divorcing parent with their children. But what does maximizing time mean? Regular overnight visitation is critical to developing and maintaining the appropriate parental relationship with a child. Every other weekend, and even an overnight on alternate weeks in the middle of the week is simply not sufficient. Over the past decade the law has evolved to catch up with the joint role that many parents play in the lives of their children. First, it is not uncommon for courts to permit the alternate residential parent to have a three-night weekend rather than a two-night weekend. This means the weekend may start on Thursday after school and end Sunday afternoon. It may start on Friday after school and end when the child or children return to school on Monday morning. Second, it is now quite normal for the parents to split spring and fall breaks and other holidays, rather than for the primary...

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We recently provided a family law blog concerning this subject relative to Arizona law. This family law blog addresses the same issue but in Tennessee, where the law is different. Despite the difference in the laws, the issue is prevalent in divorce. One spouse will tell the other that they will never “give” them a divorce. Sometimes spouses will live in two different places, even in two different states.   In Tennessee, unlike many other states, there must be grounds for a divorce unless both parties agree to divorce. The involved statute lists the grounds. They include common sense actions which one would think are grounds for a divorce such as adultery, physical abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. There is also a phrase that is used to encompass a number of unlisted activities. The phrase is “inappropriate marital conduct.”   In Tennessee, if the parties agree to divorce, then they must file a document with the court called a Marital Dissolution Agreement. If there are minor children the divorcing parents must also file a Permanent Parenting Plan and a Child Support Worksheet.   If one spouse wants a divorce but the other does not, that can create quite a problem in Tennessee. The general rule is that the party who wants the divorce will, in all probability, eventually obtain the divorce. But it may cost them to do so. When the...

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Divorce is a very stressful time.  It oftentimes involves some of the most important things in a person’s life including their finances, children and even self-identity. If there is an angry or exceedingly difficult spouse involved, that can make matters even worse.  But what can one do to make the process manageable? DON’T JUST REACT It can be a natural human tendency to respond in kind to the actions of another.  But that is not always wise.  Sometimes it is better to turn the other cheek. If you react to your spouse’s bad behavior in kind, you are also engaging in bad behavior, even if it is in defense of yourself.  If someone pushes you, and you push back, even in response to them, you did just as much pushing as they did. There is strength in not responding in kind to bad behavior.  Instead, you can look at bad behavior as just that, the other person is acting inappropriately.  Not responding to bad behavior with similar actions is the more mature and healthy way to deal with bad behavior. ACTING LIKE AN ADULT ISN’T A WEAKNESS Simply because you don’t respond in kind to bad behavior doesn’t mean that you have to live with it.  The courts who hear divorce cases see numerous examples of bad behavior by spouses going through divorce, on almost a daily basis.  Courts...

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The DW Family Law Blog Blog is published by Dickinson Wright PLLC to inform the public of important developments within the firm and practice areas. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We encourage you to consult a Dickinson Wright attorney if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered in this blog.