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Nashville, Tennessee Family Legal Blog

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. 

Addressing your estate plans after your divorce

During your divorce proceedings in Nashville, you likely had to fight to keep those marital assets that you felt that you were entitled to. Now that your divorce has been finalized, you no longer have to worry about any supposed claim your ex-spouse may have to them, right? Yet what if you have gifted assets and properties to your now ex-spouse in your will, and you forget to amend said will before you die? Many people come to us here Rogers, Kamm & Shea in this exact situation. Like them, you will likely be pleased to know that the law has accounted for yours (or any decedent's) inaction in this scenario. 

Per Section 32-1-202 of Tennessee's state code, a divorce effectively revokes any stipulations in your will regarding your ex-spouse. This includes any awards of assets or property as well as the bestowal of any rights of action towards your estate (e.g., him or her being named a trustee or personal representative). The same holds true with intestate succession guidelines. Any rights of inheritance he or she may have had to inherit your estate if you fail to prepare a will are voided upon the dissolution of your marriage. 

Your parenting plan can dictate parenting cost reimbursements

Most divorced parents soon realize that child support barely scratches the surface of the expenses that are necessary for rearing healthy children.

But how can the parent receiving support — and the parent paying it — determine how to apportion their shares of the remaining child-rearing costs for things like school tuition, sports equipment and uniforms, summer camp costs and extracurricular activity fees?

Differentiating equitable vs. equal property division

The common school of thought regarding property division in Nashville is that all marital property will be distributed equally amongst both sides in a divorce case. Most assume this to be ture because it is required by law. While there may indeed be many cases that see a divorcing couple evenly share their assets, there is actually nothing in the state's statutes stating that marital assets must be shared equally. Tennessee follows the equitable distribution model when dealing with property division cases. While "equitable" and "equal" certainly sound similar, many are surprised to learn that they are not the same thing. 

Per the Cornell University Law School, equitable distribution calls for all marital assets to be divided up fairly. This allows for the court to take certain factors into account when determining what to award in a divorce case. Such factors can include an individual's constribution to to the head of a marriage. For example, if one spouse was involved in an adulterous affair, the court may choose to allot an extra portion of a couple's shared debt to him or her. The same may be true if one has accrued substantial debts; the court may simply choose to make the repayment of them the responsibility of the one who accrued them. 

3 Tips on Navigating a Child Custody Hearing

If you’re facing a divorce in Nashville, you’re probably concerned about the upcoming child custody hearing. The process can be intimidating for many parents, especially when considering just what is at stake. If you are unaware just how child custody is determined in the court, offers some essential advice to help parents properly prepare for their day in court.

It’s important to present yourself well during your hearing, especially during a child custody case. This entails dressing in an appropriate manner as well as conducting yourself properly. Remain polite and civil when conversing with the judge or other participants and remember that any adversarial behavior will reflect poorly on you. If you’re unsure about what to expect, speak with your attorney about running through any possible scenarios.

Managing an alimony plan in tennessee

When the divorce process is complete and ex-spouses fall into new routines, life can finally begin to settle down. However, not all Tennesseans experience such smooth sailing; some even go through issues years after a marriage has ended.

One might think that child support is the major cause of contention post-divorce, yet alimony disputes can also drive a wedge into an otherwise easy separation. There are a few facts to know about the alimony process in Tennessee, as well as some useful tips on handling a difficult situation. 

Navigating emotions after divorce

Sometimes, a divorce is simply inevitable. No matter what stage of the process, Nashville spouses going through this mountainous life change can hit many speed bumps. While there is no single solution to an issue in the divorce process, it can often help to untangle emotions and understand why a hurdle is so difficult to jump over. The following takes a look into the many feelings of love and separation in a new light.

Looking at the topic of love through psychological, legal and cultural lenses, one podcast showcased by Nashville Public Radio attempts to define this complex feeling that sends so many copules turning to divorce. Writer Alex Pollack notices how much dating can be like performing, raising a key question: when do couples stop putting on a show? Jeannie Ingram, a therapist interviewed on the podcast, shares that feelings of love are brought on by a combination of chemicals in the brain; when those chemicals change, so, too, can the relationship. Ingram goes on to state that couples commonly point the finger during separations, each person blaming the other for changing. In reality, a person's own brain chemicals change over time. 

How to decide if you need a prenuptial agreement

If you want to sign a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, you may want to review the various pros and cons of entering into the agreement. By fully understanding your and your spouse's financial situations and what is possible to achieve with a prenup, you can better analyze your options.

Your prenuptial agreement could become a highly valuable document when and if you need to get a divorce. However, a prenuptial agreement may not be appropriate or necessary for all couples. As a couple weighs the benefits and setbacks of creating a prenuptial agreement before marriage, the following questions can help them decide on the matter:

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