Family law is a difficult and sensitive legal field where both emotional and financial concerns must be balanced. Before you make any difficult decisions, or taking any actions that might affect your rights, consult with one of our attorneys about issues you may be facing in your family law matter. As a family lawyer Memphis, TN trusts, we provide strategic advice, planning, and then advocacy for our clients, no matter the issue they are facing. Our Domestic Relations and Family Law practice group focuses on all important areas of the category and practices in the circuit, chancery, and juvenile courts of Tennessee, including cases that involve the following issues:
In Tennessee a potential adoptive parent can be married, single, or divorced, as long as he or she meets the statutory requirements for adoption. Adoption may take from a few months to a few years. It can be complex and time-consuming, depending on the circumstances of your case. An attorney familiar with the important details of adoption laws and regulations can make the journey for the adoptive parent(s) easier and less stressful. Additionally, adoptions can occur by surrender or with the consent of the natural parent. Often, step-parents may consider the adoption of their adult children for the purposes of inheritance.
Alimony is also termed “spousal support” or “maintenance” by statute in Tennessee depending upon the circumstances of your case. It is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other, or you may seek spousal support or maintenance from your spouse during a period of legal separation. The details may be agreed upon by the parties or set by the court depending on an number of factors including the ability of one spouse to pay and the need of the other spouse for support. There are several different forms of alimony in Tennessee, which vary by amount, duration, modification and tax consequences/advantages.
Child custody and visiting rights are often contested in a divorce. Even in the case of unmarried parents, child custody and visiting can be contested, and in certain circumstances grandparents may ask a court to grant them visitation. Courts take a number of factors into consideration in determining the best interests of children. In Tennessee, a Permanent Parenting Plan must be used to determine initial custody. Such a plan can be the result of agreement between parents or by court-ordered terms. A Memphis family lawyer experienced in child custody laws and regulations should help you through this difficult process.
Children are entitled to financial support at birth, regardless of whether the mother and father are married. If support is not provided by the parents, a court can order payment. At the time of a divorce, a court will set a child-support level based on the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, and a temporary support amount may be set by the Court during divorce proceedings. Additionally, initial child support orders are entered at the time of an initial paternity order when parents of a minor child are not married. The amount of support paid or received depends on the level of the parties’ incomes, number of days of parenting time, as well as a host of other factors which are governed by the Child Support Guidelines.
Contempt is one method to enforce court orders that are not being obeyed by a party, including failure to pay child support or spousal support. Such court orders may also apply to property rights, debt practice resulting from a divorce, orders of child custody and visitation rights. Contempt may be civil or criminal depending upon the type of violation of the Court’s order and the remedy necessary to purge the contempt
The decision to terminate a marriage can be a difficult one for any party to make, and our attorneys are prepared to guide you through the process with ease and comfort. Divorce may be sought on one of the statutory grounds provided by Tennessee law, including adultery, desertion, legal separation, cruel and inhuman treatment, etc. Individuals may also seek a divorce in Tennessee on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if the parties can reach an agreement as to all of the issues before the Court. Divorces require an equitable division of the marital estate and the potential for the payment of alimony, depending on the circumstances. If the parties have children from the marriage, the Court will also require the entry of a permanent parenting plan order for the custody and care of the minor children, which includes the payment of child support. The assets of the marriage will be determined by following the statutory definition of marital property and separate property. The resolution of each of these issues can be a daunting task, but the attorneys of Patterson Bray are available to assist you and advise you regarding the best possible outcomes.
In some cases, parties may be able to seek an order of annulment from a Court rather than proceeding through the divorce process if a party can demonstrate that their marriage was not valid at the time the parties believed they were married. This may include circumstances when one person is underage at the time of marriage, duress, fraud, or failure to comply with Tennessee’s laws regarding the licensure of marriage. Annulments are rare, but if you believe that your marriage may never have been valid and wish to seek an annulment contact our attorneys.
By Tennessee law, paternity is automatically established if the parents are married. However, a number of issues may be raised for children born out of wedlock. Establishing paternity can be very complex. Petitions may be filed by a mother or by a biological father. In either case, there are many relevant issues. Timing can be one of the most important. It may be extremely helpful to discuss those issues with a family lawyer Memphis, TN residents to before the child is born or immediately after. Additional considerations include, whether the parents have executed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and whether or not DNA testing is necessary before seeking custody and setting child support.
Men and women in Tennessee can enter into agreements before marriage that will dictate the types of property that will be considered marital property and how that property will be divided, including whether or not alimony should be paid at the time of the dissolution of a marriage. Parties also may enter into such agreements after they are married. These are called postnuptial agreements. If drafted and executed properly, they can provide the same peace of mind regarding distribution of assets in the event of a divorce.
Domestic violence often occurs under the stress of divorce, child custody and child support matters. Domestic violence is behavior that involves abuse and actions that threaten another person such as an individual’s spouse, partner or children. Domestic violence and Orders of Protection are another area of the law handled by our firm’s Domestic Relations and Family Law Practice. If you feel you are threatened by domestic violence, please consult our attorneys as soon as possible.
In addition to custody litigation, it may become necessary for a parent or relative to seek the protection of a minor child that is being neglected or abused. In these unfortunate circumstances, Tennessee law provides a remedy for the immediate removal of children from parents or homes that represent a threat of immediate irreparable harm to a minor child. Parents enjoy the constitutional right to parent their children as they see fit in Tennessee, but if the unfortunate circumstances arise that a child needs protection due to abuse or mental instability of a parent, do not hesitate to call and get the information you need.
For different reasons, clients may need to seek to modify child support orders, spousal support, or custody arrangements following the entry of a final decree of divorce or following an initial custody determination because of a change in circumstances. Tennessee law provides different standards for the modifications of each of these types of orders, but they may be granted depending on your case. These situations may arise if there has been a significant variance in a parent’s income or a substantial and material change in circumstances has occurred. If you have a current custody, child support, or alimony order, and need counsel to modify a court order, contact a family lawyer Memphis, TN offers to give you advice on what will be necessary to accomplish these tasks.