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Nashville, Tennessee Family Legal Blog

Will alimony be included in your divorce settlement?

For many people, divorce means wiping the slate clean and starting over. Unfortunately, these same people rush through their divorces and do not take the time to budget what they need in terms of the divorce settlement.

For example, some people simply want to finish their divorce as fast a possible and will agree to everything their spouse want without giving much thought to their finances.

Why do I need a postnup to stay home with my kids?

No longer are parents in Tennessee expected to quit their jobs when they become parents. In fact, it almost seems expected that they will not do so and will instead utilize nannies, day care centers or relatives to help them care for their children while they continue their careers. Parents who do make the choice to quit their jobs and stay home to raise their children get to be there for special moments of their kids' lives, but they should also be wise about protecting themselves financially.

As explained by Forbes, moms or dads who have been out of the workforce for several years and then find themselves facing a divorce could be in for quite a rude awakening. Courts today expect each spouse to be self-sufficient and do not necessarily regard stay-at-home parenting as a job or career akin to any other. This may result in a lower alimony settlement than a person might have expected.

Reasons women might still need alimony in the modern world

Women’s rights have made impressive strides forward in the past few decades. It’s no longer considered out of the norm for a woman to have a college education and a career. It’s also still normal for women to choose to stay at home and raise their children, then pick up their careers later. Some women do it all. However, income disparities and hardships still persist, despite the advances women have had. At the law office of Rogers, Kamm & Shea, we understand that women can have it especially rough after a divorce. You and other Tennessee women might need to receive alimony for numerous reasons.

According to Forbes, women are more likely than men to suffer financial hardships after a divorce. The following common scenarios may explain it to you:

  • You might have worked in an advanced career during your entire marriage, but you earn less than men in the same field.
  • You may have stayed home to take care of the children while they were young but discovered your job skills were outdated when you were ready to return to work.
  • You might have put off your college education while your husband received his education and built his career.

Relocation rules change for Tennessee divorce

Life changes quickly after a divorce, especially for newly divorced parents. You may likely move to a new neighborhood or home. You might even find yourself seeking out a new or different job. Changes like this not only have an impact on your personal life, but they may also affect your parenting plan.

This summer, the Tennessee statute governing relocation rules for divorced parents changed. An amendment was approved removing the two-tiered approach formerly in place. The amendment added an analysis for the best interests of the child or children when moves of over 50 miles away are requested.

Dividing up your 401k in your divorce

As you prepare to tackle property division as part of your divorce proceedings in Nashville, understand that you will almost certainly be surprised to discover just how many assets are subject to being split between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. The most common asset that those that we here at Rogers, Kamm & Shea Attorneys at Law have worked with in past claim to be the surprised at learning of its status as a marital asset is their 401ks. Your 401k exits solely because of your career. Why, then, should your ex-spouse be able to benefit from it? 

It is not your 401k itself that is considered a marital asset, but rather then funds that are contributed to it during the time that you were married. The same principle allows your salary and whatever property you purchased with it to be subject to property division. Just like with those assets, the court will seek to divide of the value of your 401k contributions equitably. 

Should I ask my child about visitation issues?

Unless there are allegations of abuse of any kind—physical, emotional or sexual—parents should not bring a child into the decision-making process that comes with divorce and child custody. The Tennessee Bar Association emphasizes this stance in its September Journal, making the point that visitation is an adult issue brought on by an adult problem that also requires an adult solution. Despite what some parents may feel is an attempt to be fair to the child by allowing them input, it is anything but fair.

Children are put in the middle when asked to choose which parent they prefer as a primary caregiver, and in any case, are not equipped to use good judgment in complicated situations. Sound judgment is something that comes with age and experience and is learned in a retrospective manner that cannot begin until after a child matures and moves on. Even asking children about how much time they wish to spend with a parent puts them in the position of disappointing one or both parents and sets them up for feelings of resentment and self-incrimination. This is especially true in situations where one or both parents could be seen as “passing the buck,” and putting the weight of the decision on the child.

Explaining child custody to the whole family

Nashville families going through divorce know all too well that the process usually makes little sense to younger ears. Those with children have the additional task of not only making new living arrangements, but explaining the entire situation in a way that is easy for young audiences to understand. After parents have navigated the process on their own, they can look toward a number of strategies when informing children of a new life chapter.

First, Psychology Today explains in an article on children and divorce that the approach toward a conversation alone is crucial. Explaining to a child that both parents will continue providing support is one way adults can ease into a complicated discussion. Many experts would agree that, when possible, shared parenting is ideal; stability is generally the top priority in these cases. Although individual living arrangments may depend on the situation, Psychology Today also states that maintaining relationships with friends and others in the community can make a major difference in a child's life. 

Prenups, estate planning and remarriages

For many years prenuptial agreements were thought important only for the rich and famous. Today, however, even the average resident in Tennessee may be able to benefit from these marital contracts. Important to note is that today's prenups are not just about protecting spouses and their assets in the event of a potential and unforeseen divorce.

As explained by AARP, a prenuptial agreement may act as a valuable part of a couple's estate planning toolset. Certainly, a person should not think that a prenup can or should replace a trust, will or other estate planning document but it can adjunct those nicely. In fact, some things may be easier to outline in a prenuptial agreement. It may also be helpful to have more than one document that outlines some of the same wishes to fortify the validity of those directives.

How do I value a pension for divorce?

A pension plan may be the most substantial asset of many Tennessee marriages when couples forego other methods of investing or saving in favor of participating in an employer-sponsored plan. Typically, these types of plans, such as a 401(k) are considered an “extra” benefit of working for an employer who invests in its employees in this manner, allowing them to earn full vestment, or ownership, after a period of time, which is typically five years. When a couple faces divorce, diving up this asset can sometimes be difficult, depending on several contributing factors, including the type of plan and its components. In high-asset marriages, a plan may include employee stock options, profit sharing and additional investment opportunities.

Valuing a pension plan for divorce is something in which some financial firms specialize. Voit Econometrics Group explains that pensions typically belong to one or the other of two types of very broad categories: plans that are described as either defined contribution or defined benefit plans. A contribution plan describes one in which current contributions have a future value that is not certain. A benefit plan pays monthly amounts to the holder upon retirement, a number that is typically based on the employee’s salary at the time of retirement and/or his or her length of employment. A third type of plan includes these two types in various combinations.

Judge verifies man paid alimony payment due eight years ago

Despite the fact that alimony obligations are not meant to be punitive, many in Nashville may not be happy with having to pay them. Still, it is recommended that one dutifully do so, given that potential severe consequence could be waiting should one not keep up on his or her payments. Another recommendation that far too few people may follow is to retain all records of all alimony payments. One might hang on to payment receipts or paystubs for a couple of years, but most financial experts agree that they should be kept longer. One never knows when an old liability might surface. 

Imagine the surprise experienced by a New Jersey man who was contacted by a state regulatory agency claiming that he still owed an alimony payment due eight years ago. The order mandating the man's stipulated that his obligation would end when he retired (which was eight years ago). Yet the agency claimed he still owed the payment from his final paycheck, and even threatened to pursue legal action in order to collect it. The man had a copy of his final paystub, which clearly showed that the money had been withheld. The agency, however, would not accept his evidence. The man ultimately took the matter to court, where the judge hearing the case verified his evidence and apologized for the harassment he experienced. 

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