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Our goal is to keep you educated about news related to family law in Tennessee. Check back here often for updates and blog posts from our attorneys.

How to Deal with Custody Exchanges During Summer Break

How to Deal with Custody Exchanges During Summer Break

Summer break is here and so is time for that dreaded custody exchange. If you are the parent sending your children to the other home, you may feel sad that your children will be away for a while or reluctant to let them stay at the other home because you do not get along with the other parent or step parent. If you are “receiving” the children, you may feel excited that you get to see your children again or nervous that they will have trouble readapting to you and your home.

Tips for “receiving” the child or children for summer break:

  • Do not compete with the other home. Buying the children costly gifts or taking them on expensive vacations to win their love will backfire eventually. Try spending quality time with your children instead. It will be beneficial for both them and you in the end.
  • If there is a step parent in the picture, they might need to reconnect with the children. It may feel like starting over, but if there are long periods of time in between custody exchanges, the kids will probably need to reconnect with their step parent. If they want to spend time with the step parent, let them. If they are distant towards the step parent, find ways to connect with them without forcing it.
  • Do not make the children feel guilty for speaking affectionately about those in the other home.
  • If the children complain or make negative comments about those in the other home, be sure to hear the other parent’s side of the story first before passing judgement.

Tips for sending your kids off for summer break:

  • Plan a call or in person talk with the other parent to set a calendar and iron out travel details.
  • Tell your children to have a great time. Giving your children “permission” to enjoy their time at the other home will absolve them of any guilt or fear they may feel with going to the other home.
  • It is okay to feel sad over your children’s absence, but do not burden your children with your grief. Missing your children is normal, but do not openly display your sadness to them. It could cause unnecessary stress for your children.
  • Stay in touch with your children, but do not contact them excessively.

Custody exchanges are not ideal, but many families find the best routine to fit with their lifestyles. If you are recently divorced and need help navigating through child custody, Murfreesboro Family Law is here to help. At Murfreesboro Family Law, we specialize in child custody and support, divorce, and adoption. For more information, give us a call at (615) 890-3656 or visit our website www.murfreesborofamilylaw.com.

Source:
https://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/blended-family/stepparents/multiple-home-realities/dreading-that-six-week-summer-visitation/

Private Investigators and Divorce

Private Investigators and Divorce

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with a spouse who is unfaithful or who manipulates by hiding money and assets, it can be a very frustrating position to be in. We understand that. We have helped a lot of spouses who had suspicions of this kind of activity, but didn’t have any proof. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce based on infidelity but do not have hard proof, or if you think your spouse is being untruthful about money and assets, many times we will suggest using a private investigator to help discover the truth and provide you with the best outcome in your divorce. 

When hiring a private investigator for a divorce case, it’s important to always consult with your attorney first. Over the years working with private investigators and knowing the legal system, we understand what to look for, how to guide the private investigator to what we need. We can also let you know whether or not you need to hire a PI at all. Not all cases require a private investigator, and can end up being a big cost to you at an already rough time, or can actually hurt your case in some instances. 

So, what are some reasons we have had clients hire Private investigators in the past? If you are dealing with a child custody dispute and believe your spouse is not fit to be the custodial parent, we may suggest hiring a private investigator to get the proof we need to fight for that custody. Generally, suspicion of drug use, alcohol abuse, neglect, abuse or other dangerous behaviors are grounds for hiring a PI. 

Proving infidelity is probably the number one cause that we have seen spouses hire private investigators for their family law cases. If your marriage had a prenuptial agreement that contains an adultery clause — private investigators can be very useful tools in the settlement of your divorce. In some cases in Tennessee proof of infidelity can be important for the outcome of your divorce. 

The last big reason we sometimes suggest clients using private investigators is to find hidden money and assets. In divorce cases it is not uncommon to find out a spouse was squirreling money, hiding assets, and trying to manipulate a couple’s financial situation when an impending divorce arises. If you suspect your spouse is doing this and you are considering filing for divorce call us today to discuss your situation with us. 

Going through divorce, deciding to file for divorce, preparing for divorce — it’s a tough time and can be confusing. It’s important to contact a Tennessee family law attorney to discuss and help walk you through the process. If you suspect your spouse has been financially preparing for divorce, has been unfaithful, or you are concerned for the child custody outcome of your divorce — discuss a private investigator with your family law attorney first.

Co-Parenting During the COVID-19 Crisis

Co-Parenting During the COVID-19 Crisis

As a nation, and as a world, we are facing uncharted territory. This pandemic has forced us to drastically change our lives, and many of us are left wondering what to do and how to cope. If you are a divorced parent, co-parenting with your ex-spouse can be an added pressure and challenge to overcome. You want to protect your children and help them understand their world, while presenting a united front with their other parent. Here are some tips to help you as you navigate these next few weeks.

1. Remind your child of how much you love them.

It’s important to never assume that your children know how much they mean to you. Remind them everyday that you love them and that you are there to protect them. Children dealing with divorce often have overactive nervous systems, and may be on high alert. This can be heightened during times of stress and anxiety, such as a forced quarantine. They are constantly searching for signs of danger, so it’s important to give them extra signs of security and love. Shower them with specific praise and affection.

2. Create a schedule that includes quality time.

Now that parents are working from home and kids are out of school, it can be challenging to create a routine and balance work and family life, especially if you are the only parent in the home. Start by creating a family schedule that meets everyone’s needs. Include time for you to work while the kids entertain themselves and quality time together as a family. Try to limit your child’s screen time, but don’t be afraid to use it as a tool when you need to sit down and work. Post the schedule where everyone can see, and set timers to remind you to move on to the next item on the list.

3. Be flexible.

Flexibility is key in any co-parent situation, but especially in times of crisis and change. If both parents find themselves working from home, you may need to adjust your parenting plan so that both parents have adequate time to work during the week. As conflicts or challenges arise, communicate carefully with your co-parent to make sure you are on the same page. Remember that, eventually, things will go back to normal. In the meantime, work together to do what is best for your children.

4. Be safe.

One of the most important things to remember is that our nation is facing a health crisis. This is not something to be taken lightly. Follow the guidelines set out by the government and do everything in your power to avoid spreading the disease. This includes limiting your social interaction. If you normally have a conversation with your ex-spouse when you drop off the kids, be sure to stay at least 6 feet away. Make sure the whole family is thoroughly washing their hands, and limiting contact with people in public. Explain the importance of these guidelines to your children to make sure everyone is on board.

5. Take care of yourself.

This is a stressful time in the lives of many families. Finding a new “normal” can be exhausting. Make sure to schedule time for you to recharge and relax. The best way to take care of the people around you is by taking care of yourself as well.

This is new territory for all us, so it’s okay to feel lost and confused. And it’s okay to have bad days. Just remember that those bad days don’t define your parenthood, and your kids still think you are doing a great job. When this is all over, they won’t remember the days you lost your temper or the times they had to watch extra tv while you worked, they will remember the quality time they got to spend with their mom or dad and the memories they made at home together.

Building the Right Team for Your Divorce

Building the Right Team for Your Divorce

If you find yourself preparing for a divorce, there is more to the process than just getting your finances and property in order. It is important to gather the right professionals around you to support you through this process. Your divorce team includes more than just your attorney. You may need help from real estate agents, financial advisors, accountants, mediators, or parenting experts. Choosing the right team of professionals for your divorce can make a huge difference in the success of your divorce case. When deciding who should be a part of your team, remember to choose people who can provide you with the resources and guidance you need.

Divorce can be a very emotional, expensive and stressful process. It is also, at times, very confusing and overwhelming, so it is important to surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart. Here are some potential members of your divorce team:

  • A divorce attorney and their team
  • Mediators, parenting evaluators, counselors, therapists
  • Financial advisors, accountants, appraisers, tax professionals, real estate agents
  • Private investigators
  • Family, friends, religious leaders
  • Teachers, coaches, nannies

Each team member’s role is different, but they should all seek to help you maintain an emotional, spiritual and financial balance throughout your divorce case. Reach out to trusted people in your life and ask them if they would be willing to work on your divorce team. Make sure to be open and honest with them as you work through your case. 

When you choose to work with an experienced professional at Murfreesboro Family Law, we will help you assemble a team of committed, knowledgeable individuals who will work together to help you achieve your goals. We will also help you find the right people to help you protect your children, your assets, your professional life, and your personal life throughout the divorce proceedings. 

To get started building your divorce team, contact us today.

Discipline as Co-Parents: Maintaining Consistency

Being a parent is hard work, and it can be made even more challenging when you share your parenting time with an ex-spouse. Although the two of you are no longer together, you still have an obligation to raise your children in a consistent, loving environment. When it comes to disciplining your child as co-parents, consistency and compassion are key. Here are some tips to help you navigate co-parenting after a divorce.

Communication is vital.

Even though you and your spouse are no longer married, it is important that you maintain good communication regarding important parenting issues. It will be easier for you and your children if you and your ex-spouse are on the same page when it comes to rules, rewards and discipline. You may not always agree on how to handle situations, but it helps if you are able to maintain consistent, respectful communication about parenting issues. Try setting up a standing phone call or meeting to discuss how your children are doing. 

If behavioral issues arise, you should discuss the issues with your ex-spouse and devise a plan of action that you both support. Focus on solutions rather than assigning blame. 

Establish ground rules.

It’s important that you and your ex-spouse enforce the same rules for your children in both homes. This helps create a consistent routine for your children and helps them understand their boundaries. Some examples of good ground rules include:

What is our plan for dealing with behavior issues?

What is the child’s bedtime?

What is our plan for chores and allowance?

What screen time limits will we set (if any)?

Find a balance.

After a divorce, it may be tempting to cut your child some extra slack as they adjust to their new normal. However, don’t completely throw out all forms of discipline. Find balance in your life between compassion and clear boundaries and expectations.

Consistency is key.

It’s hard to uphold all the rules and boundaries all the time. Especially on an especially difficult day. It’s okay if things slip through the cracks sometimes, but remember that consistency is important in successfully raising any child. Children who come from split homes may have an especially difficult time finding consistency when their time is split between two homes. Even if your ex doesn’t enforce the same house rules, you should still do everything you can to enforce yours.

As a parent, you can only do your best to provide a stable and compassionate home for your children. To learn more about co-parenting or to talk to a family law professional, contact us today.

Bad Social Media Habits to Avoid During Your Divorce

Bad Social Media Habits to Avoid During Your Divorce

Social media offers a small glimpse into our everyday lives and allows us to share our lives with our families and friends, but during your divorce case, it can be extremely harmful to your case. Some details of your life are worth sharing on social media, but the details of your divorce are best left unposted. To keep your social media accounts from damaging the outcome of your case, here are some social media habits to avoid during your divorce.

Posting about your spouse or ex-spouse.

Although you may complain about your spouse to close family or friends, avoid doing so on social media. Disparaging your spouse on social media can have disastrous results on your case. Avoid making comments of any kind about your spouse on social media.

Deleting activity that could be used against you.

Most people think that when they delete their social media activity, it disappears forever. However, it is almost impossible to permanently delete anything from your online presence. Even the act of trying to delete your social media activity can be held against you as destruction of evidence or inference of guilt.

Posting photographs of or mentioning drugs and alcohol.

Evidence of drug and alcohol use can be used to prove that you are an unfit parent. Even a casual “Friday Night Wine” post or a picture of you sharing a beer with a friend can be taken out of context or exaggerated. Exercise extreme caution when anyone wants to take a picture of you in social drinking settings.

Discussing new romantic relationships.

Any new romantic relationships should be kept private until your divorce is final. Even if your new relationship began after your marriage ended, any evidence of a new relationship can be used to prove an affair. Keep your new love interest under wraps until everything is settled.

Sharing your location.

While it may be tempting to share details of your new life after your marriage has ended, avoid sharing your location on social media. Sharing the amount of time you spend at bars or casinos may be used against you, especially in custody disputes.

The best way to use social media during your divorce case is not to use it at all. Even innocent photos or posts can have devastating consequences on your divorce case. It’s best to play it safe and avoid using social media until your divorce and all related proceedings are final.

Constructive Visitations: Do’s and Don’ts

Constructive Visitations: Do’s and Don’ts

For divorced parents and their children, visitation is an important part of family life. Visitation is vital to helping children maintain a sense of connection and normalcy with both parents during and after a divorce. But a successful visitation depends on both parents being willing to set aside their differences and put the needs of the children first. Parents need to make sure their children feel safe and loved in both homes, with both parents. Here are some visitation do’s and don’ts to help the time go smoothly for both you and your children.

Do:

Be flexible.

Although you should have a structured visitation schedule, it’s important to remember that schedules change and unexpected events pop up. Be flexible as plans change, and try not to lash out if your visiting time is cut short. Give the other parent advanced notice if your schedule changes, and let him or her know of your vacation schedule in advance. Also remember that your children may have plans, sporting events, or extra-curricular activities that may affect your visitation schedule. Do your best to go with the flow to help your children adjust more easily.

Incorporate visitation into everyday life.

Instead of planning large excursions and activities every time your visit with your children, allow downtime for just “hanging out.” Do normal things like watching TV or eating a homemade dinner together so you and your children have time to talk and spend time together. Instead of making your visits all about fun, incorporate a little bit of light work into your visits, like a small chore chart, so that your children have a balance of fun and responsibility at both homes.

Don’t:

Disrupt your child’s visitation time with their other parent.

Avoid making your children feel guilty for wanting to spend time with their other parent. Allow them to feel at home with both parents by leaving toys or clothes at each house. Don’t make excuses to withhold visitation from your former spouse. This punishes your children, who have done nothing wrong. Allow your children to communicate freely with their parent and feel comfortable talking about the time they have spent with them.

Spoil your children during their visit.

Avoid buying your children’s love with toys or treats. You are still a parent, so don’t feel the need to act like your child’s buddy. Punish them as you normally would, and don’t overdo it with junk food and unnecessary gifts. Allow your visitation time to be a normal part of your child’s life.

A successful visitation depends on your willingness to be positive and understanding for the sake of your children. As with everything in life, these things take time and practice to work out, so don’t feel discouraged! For more information about successful parenting plans, contact us today.

Co-Parenting During the School Year

Co-Parenting During the School Year

Now that school is back in full-swing, you may find yourself struggling to co-parent through the chaos of after-school activities, homework, parent-teacher conferences, sporting events, and everything else that comes along with the school year. The school year can offer challenges to any family, but families with divorced parents may face unique difficulties. We have compiled a list of tips to help your family navigate this time of year smoothly.

Communicate with your child’s teacher.

Many schools use electronic means to communicate with parents. Familiarize yourself with these communication methods and make sure you and your ex-spouse have separate accounts to access the information provided by your child’s teacher. Communicate to your child’s teacher that both parents should be emailed anything that involves your child, and be sure to copy your ex-spouse on any communication between you and your child’s teacher. 

Get on the same page.

Let the other parent know when your child is home sick and if there is any work that he or she needs to make up. Use a shared calendar to keep up with extra-curricular activities and important school events. Keep note of when your child needs to bring their gym clothes to school and when their library books are due. 

Communicate with your co-parent what your expectations are when it comes to your child’s grades and progress at school. Keep in touch about your child’s goals and grades, and make sure he or she is doing everything needed to succeed at school. 

Coordinate with your co-parent when it comes to helping your child complete school projects and assignments. Decide who will take the lead on which assignments in order to reduce the stress on your child and help him or her succeed. 

Be proactive.

Divorce can take a toll on a child’s emotional health, so it’s important to look out for any signs that your child may be struggling emotionally. Talk to the school guidance counselor and let him or her know about your child’s family situation. Consider extra counseling for your child to help him or her cope with the current situation in healthy ways.

When co-parenting your children, remember that this is ultimately about your child, not about you. Strive to keep your children at the center of your discussions and decisions and try not to let your pride get in the way. When both parents prioritize the best interest of the child, less conflict will arise and more positive interactions will occur. 

For more help navigating life after divorce, contact us today.

Practicing Self-Care During a Divorce

Practicing Self-Care During a Divorce

A divorce case may be one of the most trying and difficult times in your life. Even amicable splits can leave you feeling overwhelmed, stressed and lonely. More combative divorces can cause you to feel heartbroken and and drained emotionally and physically. During your divorce, it’s important to prioritize your health so that you can be at your best to take care of your children and fight for your rights.

Practicing self care during a divorce is easier than you may think. Here are 5 tips to help you stay mentally, physically and emotionally healthy:

1. Cleanse your environment.

One of the most important things you can do during a divorce case is to surround yourself with positivity and support. Remove negative reminders of your past from your living spaces, and try to refresh any spaces that you once shared to make them your own. Even just rearranging the furniture can bring new life into your home. Also remember to surround yourself with people who love and support you. If certain friends or family members are causing tension or strife, it may be best to step away from these relationships for a season to focus on yourself and your healing.

2. Spend time with yourself.

Find something that you enjoy doing and take intentional time out each week to invest in yourself. Try a new hobby, or revisit an old one. Find something that makes you happy and allows you to focus on yourself.

3. Exercise.

When you exercise, your body produces endorphins that can brighten your mood. Exercise may also be a good way to channel any anger or aggression you may be feeling. Sign up for a class at the local gym, try out a yoga session, or visit a kickboxing gym. You can even find ways to incorporate exercise into your everyday life. Walk the dog in the evenings with your family or take an evening stroll to spend time alone. Just get your body moving in positive ways!

4. Take responsibility.

Although every divorce is different, in most cases, both parties can shoulder some of the responsibility for the end of the relationship. It’s easy to get caught up in your anger or hurt, but taking a step back and looking at your divorce from your spouse’s perspective may help the process. Don’t blame yourself, but rather be honest about what went wrong and the role you may have played. Shouldering some of the responsibility for your divorce can be a healthy way to deal with your new reality.

5. Talk it out.

For many people, a divorce comes with a grieving process. The life you had planned is ending, and it’s okay to feel sad about it. It’s important not to bottle up your feelings. Find a trusted friend or family member to talk through all your feelings with. It may even be helpful to find a therapist or counselor to help you work through some of the more complicated emotions that come along with any divorce.

Every divorce is different, and what works for one person may not work for you. Try to find ways to practice self care that meet your needs and fit your schedule.

For help with your Tennessee divorce case, contact Murfreesboro Family Law today.

Co-Parenting: Surviving the Summer

Co-Parenting: Surviving the Summer

As the school year comes to and end and your family’s daily schedule begins to change, it’s time to start thinking about your summer parenting plan. As divorced parents, it’s important to work together to create a summer parenting plan that allows your children to have fun while maintaining balance.

During the summer, schedules change quickly as camps begin and end and vacations occur. So it’s a good idea to get on the same page before summer break begins to avoid conflict down the road and to help your children enjoy their summer break.

Plan Ahead

It’s best to start planning for summer as early as possible. Work with your ex-spouse to divide the time in a way that works for both parties. Most divorced parents choose to split the summer. For older children, you may decide to divide the summer in half. However, for younger kids, every two weeks may work better. Allow for flexibility in your summer plan as plans do change and unavoidable situations do arise. Keep your children’s best interests at the forefront of your discussions and do your best to avoid making decisions out of anger or jealousy.

Involve Your Kids

It is always a good idea to involve your children in the decision-making process. Ask them about what activities they would like to do or places they would like to visit during their summer vacation. Do your best to accommodate their wishes while maintaining a beneficial routine.

Coordinate Vacations

If you or your co-parent decide to take a family vacation with your children, be sure to coordinate these dates with one another to avoid conflicting schedules. Be cooperative and sensitive to the needs of your children and your co-parent. Be sure to provide all the appropriate information in order to make your co-parent feel completely comfortable with your vacation plans. Make it clear to your children that you want them to have a good time with their other parent, and don’t make them feel guilty for leaving on a trip. Encourage them to take pictures and share their travels with you when they return.

Be Flexible

The most important thing to consider this summer is the happiness and well-being of your children. When conflict arises, try to take a deep breath and work out a compromise. Hold your summer plans loosely and be flexible. When you both have your children’s best interests at heart, you will eventually come to a conclusion that works for everyone.

Making Memories

Regardless of how you choose to plan your summer, remember that your children just want to spend time with you. Instead of obsessing over how much time you have with them, just do your best to enjoy the time you do have. Support your children and remind them that you love them and want the best for them.

Although planning for the summer as a divorced family can be challenging, staying honest and flexible can help you and your children relax and have fun this summer!