There are many different parental situations in Knoxville. Sometimes the parents are married, sometimes they are divorced or separated and in other situations the parents were never married. While the parents are married, they are generally living together and raising the children together. However, if they divorce or were never married in the first place, this is not usually the case. The parents will live separately, but that does not mean that only one parent is responsible for raising the child.
Ask any divorced parent and they will tell you that one of the most stressful times of the year is the time leading up to Christmas and other end-of-the-year holidays, due in part to a time-sharing agreement that was established months or even years in advance.
Over the last month, our blog has been examining the agreed divorce process here in Tennessee, which allows spouses who concur on all points and who otherwise satisfy certain requirements (i.e., no kids under 18, no jointly-owned real estate, no retirement accounts) to secure an expedited split.
In a previous post, we discussed how the law here in Tennessee provides for a simplified dissolution of marriage process known as "agreed divorce" in recognition of the fact that not all divorcing couples have been together for years, raised a family and/or accumulated sizeable assets.
While there is a tendency to envision the majority of divorcing couples as having been together for years, raised a family and accumulated sizeable assets, this is really only part of the big picture. Indeed, the reality is that divorcing couples come from all walks of life, with just as many having been married for only a relatively short amount of time, having no children and little assets to divide.
In an undoubtedly groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution grants the right to same sex marriage. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, which encompassed the Court's recognition of the importance of the institution of marriage:
First, generally attorneys charge two different types of fees depending on whether your divorce is agreed or contested. This is because an agreed divorce is shorter, simpler, and takes less time. Normally these agreed divorces are done on a one-time flat fee basis. On the other hand, a contested case is normally billed out at an hourly rate against an upfront retainer that is more than an agreed divorce flat fee. Many times, if you pay for an agreed divorce (that flat fee) and for whatever reason (which will be listed below) your divorce ends up not being agreed, you then have to additionally pay a contested retainer. So, it is fairly important to have a good idea as to which one it will be. Also, many times that flat fee "agree divorce" fee is only available when there is one attorney involved. Generally that one attorney only represents one spouse and the other spouse is willing to go unrepresented. If both spouses retain counsel, normally an hourly retainer is required even if nothing has been filed with the court or the parties intend to settle, because having two lawyers involved generally necessitates at least some negotiation - whereas the idea of a flat fee agreed divorce is that the spouses have already negotiated with each other or will do so independently from the lawyer.
Child support issues can vary from simple to very complicated depending on the facts and issues involved. However, here is a very good start and understanding this complex subject in Tennessee.
In the case of Wunder vs. Wunder, No. M2014-00008-COA-R3-CV, (Tenn. Ct. App., Dec 22, 2014) Husband and Wife were declared divorced in May of 1999. The partes' Marital Dissolution Agreement or "MDA" gave primary custody of the two minor children to Wife and obligated Husband to pay $4,000 in monthly child support. Husband also agreed to fund a college trust account of $800.00 per month, per child. A provision in the MDA titled "Reduction of Child Support" stated that court approval must be obtained before a reduction in child support could be made.
Tennessee has passed a new child support law, Public Chapter No. 200, which went into effect as of July 1st, 2015. Public Chapter No. 200 amends Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 36-5-101 (f). Under this new law, child support arrearages may be waived or reduced. Child support is in arrears when it is overdue and begins to collect interest of 12% per year. Under the new law, this debt may be forgiven with permission from the court and the agreement of both parties by signing a settlement agreement.