Tennessee Supreme Court Ain’t Got Time for All the Dismissed Termination-of-Parental-Rights Appeals: In re Bentley D.

Well, that didn’t take long. A few weeks ago I wrote about the sudden avalanche of appellate decisions dismissing parental-rights-termination cases because the appellant’s lawyer signed the notice of appeal on behalf of the appellant. Recently amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-124(d) requires that “[a]ny notice of appeal filed in a termination of parental rights […]

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Tennessee Supreme Court Considering Rule regarding Collaborative Family Law

The Tennessee Supreme Court released for review and comment a proposed new rule governing collaborative practice in family-law matters. The new rule is proposed by the Tennessee Bar Association, which studied the growing method of dispute resolution known as collaborative practice or collaborative divorce. The petition describes collaborative practice as one where Collaborative attorneys are […]

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Tennessee Family Law Legislative Update 2017

Hello, friends! It’s that time of year again—time to review how our legislators made Tennessee family law worse than it was this time last year. First, let’s all take a minute to chug a jar of East Tennessee moonshine to prepare ourselves for what’s to come. OK, now that we’re sufficiently numb, let’s get started. Hit us with your best shot, […]

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Tennessee Supreme Court Clarifies Criteria for Modification of Grandparent Visitation: Lovlace v. Copley

Facts: In their divorce, Mother was designated the primary residential parent of Child and Father was awarded supervised visitation. Eventually, Mother married Stepfather. Paternal Grandparents petitioned for grandparent visitation, which ultimately led to an agreed order providing for grandparent visitation. Several years later, Father consented to Stepfather’s adoption of Child. The order of adoption specifically stated […]

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Tennessee Supreme Court Upholds Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights: In re Adoption of Angela E.

Facts: The factual and procedural background can be found at my previous post on the Court of Appeals’ opinion. In a divided opinion, a majority of the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court on the issue of grounds for terminating Father’s parental rights, holding that Mother established Father willfully failed to visit the children. The majority […]

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Prenuptial Agreement Held Invalid and Unenforceable in Tennessee: Stancil v. Stancil

Facts: Wife filed for divorce and sought temporary alimony. Husband responded that Wife had waived any claim to alimony in a prenuptial agreement. The trial court held on hearing on the validity and enforceability of the prenuptial agreement. The proof showed Wife had no formal education beyond the tenth grade. Husband owned an interest in […]

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No Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in Tennessee: In re Alex B.T.

Facts: Mother is the parent of Child, whose biological father is unknown. When Mother was incarcerated for domestic violence, Mother’s sister and brother-in-law obtained temporary custody of Child and became Child’s Legal Guardians. Mother retained “reasonable and liberal visitation” rights. For a few years, Mother had no visitation with Child. Legal Guardians filed a petition […]

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Material Change of Circumstances and Change of Custody in Tennessee: Estes v. Estes

Facts: At divorce, Mother and Father agreed on a parenting plan designating Mother as the primary residential parent of the parties’ three children and establishing Father’s parenting time as alternating weekends plus one overnight each week. Both parties lived close to the children’s schools. Several years later, Mother remarried and moved to another county some […]

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Property Classification of Unvested Stock Options in Tennessee Divorce: Malone v. Malone

Facts: During the parties’ marriage, Husband accumulated 20,200 shares of vested and unvested stock options. At the divorce trial, Husband argued the options were of no value since the grant price was currently below the sale price. The trial court agreed and awarded Wife no interest in the stock options. Otherwise, the trial court awarded […]

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Long-Term Alimony in Tennessee: Gonsewski v. Gonsewski

Facts: The parties were divorced after a 21-year marriage. Wife was granted the divorce because of Husband’s inappropriate marital conduct. Both had been employed throughout the marriage. Husband earned $138,000 per year, including a $38,000 bonus that was not guaranteed to recur in the future. Wife earned $72,000 per year. In dividing the marital property, […]

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Tennessee’s New Forms for Agreed Divorces

Effective today, the Tennessee Supreme Court has approved new forms that can be used for certain types of agreed divorces in courtrooms across the state. This is the result of an effort by the Court to make it easier for divorcing parties to use self-help for routine legal services. While that is certainly a noble […]

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Termination of Parental Rights and Res Judicata in Tennessee: In re Shyronne D.H.

Facts: Following an incident with one of her children, Mother was charged with aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse. Mother pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six years’ incarceration. In a separate proceeding, Mother’s children were determined to be dependent and neglected and victims of severe child abuse, and Mother filed a […]

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Change of Child Custody After Tennessee Divorce: Richards v. Richards

Facts: Mother and Father divorced and entered an agreed parenting plan providing for equal co-parenting time. Mother filed a petition to modify the parenting plan to designate her as the primary residential parent, and Father filed a counter-petition seeking the same relief. Mother alleged the distance between the parents—Father lived approximately an hour’s drive away—was […]

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Property Division and Alimony: Garman v. Garman

Facts: Husband and Wife were married for 17 years. Husband is a physician. Wife has an M.B.A. and was a financial analyst prior to becoming a homemaker and stay-at-home parent to the parties’ children. Throughout the marriage, the parties lived beyond their means. Wife’s mother made significant loans to the parties so they could purchase […]

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