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Nashville, Tennessee Family Legal Blog

Divorcing with student loan debt

When you and your spouse in Tennessee come the decision that you will no longer remain married to each other, it is time to embark on the difficult journey of splitting up your joint lives. There are many layers to this and some of the work involved focuses on separating the two of you financially. If one or both of you have student loan debt remaining from your college days, you might automatically assume that this debt will be assigned to the person who took the loans out. That may happen but it may not.

As explained by Student Loan Hero, if you were already married when the student loans were taken out, that might raise the question about whether the debt was truly for the benefit of only one person or for the benefit of both of you.

How does divorce affect my estate planning?

If you and your spouse in Tennessee have recently separated or gotten divorced, you will know firsthand just how deeply this experience impacts your life. Every facet of your daily life and long-term plans are touched including your finances, your residence and even your social circle. It can be hard to focus on all of the things you need to address at this time and an estate plan might be one of those things you put aside for the moment. This, however, should not be done long-term.

As explained by Forbes, it is in your best interest to make updating your estate plan a priority after you get divorced. You may even want to update some items upon separating from your spouse before your divorce is over. Examples include a durable power of attorney and an advanced health care directive. These are important in the event you should become unable to manage your finances or make health care decisions for yourself. You are not likely to want an estranged spouse doing these things for you.

Tennessee’s factors in determining alimony

As you enter into divorce proceedings in Nashville, you may be expecting to be awarded alimony (especially if you out your career ambitions on hold to see to the domestic responsibilities in your home while your spouse worked). Many who come to see us here at Rogers, Kama & Shea have the same assumption, and are equally as shocked as you may be to learn that alimony is not automatically awarded, but rather only considered in those situations where you may not be able secure gainful employment immediately upon the end of your marriage. 

While your divorce will no doubt impact your lifestyle, the ultimate goal is that both you and your ex-spouse will be able to enjoy a similar quality of life to the one that you did while married. If it is believed that your professional skill set would allow you to quickly find a job that will allow you to do so, the court may very well determine that alimony is not warranted in your case. 

Showing your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship

Alimony may often be seen by many in Nashville as a form of financial punishment levied against the party in a divorce that makes the most the money. In reality, it is not that at all. When you have been ordered to provide your ex-spouse with spousal support, that support is only meant to last until the point that the party receiving it is able to afford (on their own) the same standard of living they enjoyed while married. Remarriage is often what ends an alimony obligation. Yet what if your ex-spouse refuses to remarry? Many in this ver situation have come to us here at Rogers, Kamm & Shea asking what recourse might be available to them. 

Your ex-spouse may think that by choosing to cohabitate with a new partner rather than remarry, they are taking advantage of a loophole in the law. However, it does require the actual act of remarriage to end your alimony obligation. In cases where you are paying either alimony in futuro or transitional alimony and your ex-spouse chooses to live with another person, Section 36-5-121 of Tennessee'ss Domestic Relations Code states that the court assumes either one that the third party is supporting your ex-spouse or your ex-spouse is supporting them. In either case, it would likely be determined that alimony is no longer needed. 

Dealing with pet custody

As you prepare for your divorce proceedings in Nashville, you may be ready to move on from many aspects of your marriage; your relationship with your pet, however, may not be one of them. Pets are often afforded a great deal of love and sentiment. Just as you cannot imagine not having your children in your life following your divorce, you may feel the same way about your pet. Many have come to us here at Rogers, Kamm & Shea in your same situation wondering how the court handles the issue of pet custody. The answer can be quite complicated. 

You might think pets are treated legally in the same manner as children, yet they are not. Per the Animal Legal Defense Fund, pets are considered to be personal property. Therefore, in the context of your divorce, ownership of your pet will be determined during property division proceedings. Whereas custody of children is influenced by what the court believes to be in your kids' best interests, no such considerations may be given when deciding who gets to keep the family pets (unless, of course, there have been documented cases of animal abuse by either you or your spouse). 

Combat adjustment issues in children during divorce

Divorce turns a child's life upside down, but it is sometimes unavoidable because the adults simply can't live together any longer. For the parents, this presents a challenge because they can't just leave each other alone since they do have kids together. Working as a team can be hard at times, but working through the issues can lead to a well-adjusted child who has the support of both parents.

Sometimes, children will have a lot of trouble adjusting to the situation. This might lead to behavioral problems, which can cause more work for the parents. Figuring out how to help the children during this time must be a priority.

What is a right of first refusal clause?

The most difficult aspect of your divorce in Nashville may likely be not having your kids around you all the time. Placing distance between you and your children no doubt makes parenting more difficult. Yet you can still be a successful parent if you are able to make the most of your parenting time. That includes taking advantage of every minute that is available for you to spend time with your kids. Doing that may be much easier if your custody agreement includes a right of first refusal clause. 

It is inevitable that there will be instances when your ex-spouse is called away or makes plans while the kids are in their custody. According to the website, including a right to first refusal clause on your divorce settlement places the requirement on your ex-spouse that in cases where they must leave the kids, they have to contact you first before arranging for another to come watch the kids. This can include instances where your ex-spouse: 

  • Goes to work
  • Travels out of town
  • Goes on a date
  • Spends a night out with friends

Debt takes priority over saving after divorce

If you are like many people in Tennessee, you may have experienced a period of financial stability and even growth in the last decade as the nation and the world emerged from the most recession economic downturn. Regardless of the state of the economy, however, when you get divorced, your financial situation can take a turn for the worse. This can be a very hard situation to adjust to, especially if you have not generally had to worry about your financial health before. 

The realities that face many divorced people include the need to pay spousal support and child support while simultaneously needing to support one's own life on an income much less than what they are accustomed to. This may be why a new survey from CNBC found that people who have been divorced commonly identify paying down debt to be a bigger priority than saving money. Divorced people were also more likely than their non-divorced counterparts to feel that they did not earn enough money to support themselves or pay for everything they needed to pay for.

Benefit of prenuptial agreements

To many people in Tennessee, the thought of asking a partner to sign a prenuptial agreement might sound like the antithesis of romantic and contrary to what a couple in love planning their future together should be doing. However, marriage is as much a business transaction as it is an emotional one and addressing both sides of this experience is important.

As explained by, a prenup can actually help a couple prepare for a solid marriage. Being forced to be completely open and honest about all financial matters is not easy. This may well be why money is such a common trigger for marital arguments and divorces. A prenuptial agreement can help partners determine how they want to manage their money together once they are married, setting them up for success.

Hard facts to face in a divorce

If you are facing a divorce, even if you are the one seeking it, it can open up a few cans of worms. You may be astonished by the feelings of loss and regret that wash over you from time to time during the divorce process.

It should be helpful to learn that those feelings and emotions are completely normal under the circumstances. After all, this person was supposed to be your partner and designated plus-one for life. Severing these ties may not be as easy as you first had thought.

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