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Montgomery County Divorce Law Blog

The rights of unmarried fathers in Tennessee

There used to be a time when courts considered that the best interests of the child could only be preserved when the child stayed with the mother. The tenders' doctrine, as this practice was known, led to many child custody and visitation cases being settled in favor of the mother, without paying adequate attention to a father's pleas for child custody, even when that father was mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially capable of caring for his child.

However, like other sociological changes in American society, fathers' rights have also evolved with time and nowadays, courts in Tennessee consider the best interests of the child while deciding on child custody and visitation, unlike the tender years' doctrine of yester-years. In addition to the societal change, federal and state agencies have made various efforts to ensure that fathers' rights are protected, especially when that father is unmarried.

How do Tennessee courts define parenting plans?

In the U.S., there are many parents who are either divorced, are in the process of getting a divorce or are contemplating a divorce. Parents understand how critical the issue of child custody and visitation are. To make it more civilized, courts in Tennessee prefer to refer to child custody and visitation rights as parenting plans.

To understand the concept of a parenting plan in Tennessee, a parent needs to understand how the courts define this particular term. According to the Tennessee Courts website, a parenting plan is a way for separated parents to ensure that a child is provided with all feasible comforts, even after the parents are separated. The plan acknowledges the importance of the involvement of both parents in a child's upbringing and encourages a healthy parent-child relationship. Every aspect of a parenting plan is targeted to ensure the best interests of the child.

Tennessee man had to pay child support twice

Tennessee residents can often agree that children are affected the worst during divorces. Not only do they face the emotional turmoil of their family breaking apart, but the custodial parent may also face financial insecurities as well. Who will cater to the children's expenses, including food, clothing, schooling and medical expenses? These are the questions that haunt many people's minds when families break up.

In the best interests of the child, there should be no dispute about child support. But what happens when a father is double billed for payments? This is what happened in the case of a man when he took up part-time employment after his current wife had to leave her job.

What is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

Due to the nearby United States Army's Fort Campbell installation, the area around Clarksville, Tennessee, is home to many military families. Like civilian families, many couples in the military have marital issues, which can lead to divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is an act that provides benefits to the ex-spouses of service members.

According to the act, a state court is allowed to divide the disposable retirement pay of the military member between that member and the member's spouse. The decision to divide that property, however, rests with the state court. In some cases, a service member's former spouse is paid directly by the government. Other benefits may include medical care at military facilities and admittance to commissaries and exchanges. In some cases, the act entitles spouses or children who have been victims of abuse to certain benefits. A service member's former spouse may also obtain benefits under the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Memphis nonprofit offers training to foster parents

Due to the inability of their biological family to provide them with a secure and stable environment, many children in the United States are being raised in foster homes. In Tennessee, the Department of Child Services is entrusted with the responsibility of providing a temporary home for such children. The DCS selects foster families who are capable of supporting the children during their formative years and catering to their social and emotional needs.

It is not uncommon for foster parents to later seek child custody, and therefore, developing parenting skills right from the stage when they first become foster parents is extremely important. To aid in this effort, Youth Villages, a nonprofit organization from Memphis, Tennessee, is offering free orientation and training for foster parents. As many children in Tennessee find it difficult to find a foster home, this effort is expected to go a long way.

Some important points for dividing a house after divorce

For many couples in Clarksville, Tennessee, owning a home is a life-long dream and is valuable to the couple. Sadly, many marriages fall apart and they fight over their home. Because Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, the primary residential home is often discussed during property division.

Even if a couple is not officially divorced, it is necessary for one spouse to obtain a "quit claim" deed signed by the other spouse before investing in another property that the spouse plans to buy alone. By signing a quit claim deed, one spouse gives up any claim on the new property in the future.

Property division per prenup for hedge-fund billionaire's divorce

Clarksville, Tennessee, residents may agree that one of the most contested issues during divorce is property division. Separating spouses can intensify the competition when the property at stake runs into billions of dollars. High asset divorces in Tennessee and the rest of the country often witness some of the most intense and nasty battles over property division.

One such high asset divorce has grabbed recent headlines across the country but might not have fireworks because according to reports, the big-city hedge-fund billionaire who recently filed for divorce from his wife of 11 years because they could no longer live together peacefully has a prenuptial agreement. The couple has been living separately for more than a year and the 45-year-old husband's filing also sought joint custody of the three children from the marriage, which was his second.

It may be wiser to keep children out of child support disputes

It may come as a surprise to many Tennessee residents, but unpaid child support in 2011 stood at an astounding $14 billion nationwide according to the United States Census Bureau. Surprisingly, only 43 percent of the 6.3 million custodial parents in the country, who averaged $6,050 monthly, received child support that was due to them and their children. The majority of parents who did not receive child support were women and many of them were living in poverty.

Another interesting fact is that 26.1 percent of all custodial parents approached child support enforcement agencies in 2012 to seek assistance. This, however, is significantly lower than 1994 when 42.2 percent custodial parents sought assistance.

Responsible fatherhood grants can help Tennessee fathers

Many Tennessee residents may understand that according to the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, the federal government provides $150 million every year to various agencies to promote healthy marriages and fatherhood. Of the total amount, $75 million is dedicated to activities that promote fatherhood. The Responsible Fatherhood Programs are monitored by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families' Office of Family Assistance.

Although such programs are in place in every state in the United States, many fathers in Tennessee still face various challenges when attempting to be there for their children. However, thanks to the Responsible Fatherhood Grant Programs, many fathers are now trying to find an avenue that could bridge the gap between them and their children. With the help of the various Responsible Fatherhood Programs, fathers now have the opportunity to ensure that an ongoing child custody dispute with an estranged wife does not violate the fathers' rights and makes it as easy on the children as possible.

Clerical error turns father into child support delinquent

In the United States, courts order a non-custodial parent to pay child support in order to ensure that a child's best interests are protected at all times. The money that a custodial parent receives in the form of child support is utilized to meet the child's financial requirements. Therefore, when child support payments are not received on time, many custodial parents and children face substantial financial difficulties. To avoid such issues, child support payments are deducted from a non-custodial parent's paycheck.

A recent incident that garnered immense national media attention was that of a non-custodial father. According to reports, the 43-year-old father allegedly failed to pay the full amount in child support for his 12-year-old son for several months.

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Photo of Steven C. Girsky Steven C. Girsky


Having a steady hand to guide you through your legal concerns can make all the difference. Representing clients in the greater Clarksville and Hopkinsville area since 1991, attorney Steven C. Girsky is well-respected among members of the bench and bar. Licensed in both Kentucky and Tennessee, he receives referrals from former clients and lawyers...

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