Author: Stuart Scott

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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Divorce presents a very foreign world to many when it comes to what they can and can’t look at and use.  When someone is married, they may assume they have a right to look at anything their spouse receives and to check into anything their spouse does.  While those ground rules may work during a marriage, assuming the same thing to be true during a divorce is fraught with peril. FEDERAL LAW APPLIES Most people going through a divorce would never imagine that a federal law designed to catch criminals who secretively snoop on others and take their data may apply to them, but it could. There are a whole set of federal laws which were not written with divorce in mind, but which may apply to divorce.  One is wire-tapping. When someone hears the word wire-tapping they may think about the federal government tapping into a phone communication between a drug kingpin and others.  But the way the law is written is not limited to this situation. Wire-tapping involves any person recording a communication between two others.  State laws vary on this.  Some states allow one person to a phone call to record it.  This means if you are calling someone or someone is calling you, either of you may record the phone call, without getting permission from the other. Under the federal wire-tapping law, however, no one...

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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.