Category Archives: Questions & Answers

What is a Tennessee Permanent Parenting Plan?

One of the most important pieces of a divorce involving minor children is the creation of a Permanent Parenting Plan.  Not only is it required to finalize a divorce, but the plan must be in the best interests of the minor child(ren).

Divorcing parties can collaborate to develop a Permanent Parenting Plan (PPP).  Or, if the parties do not agree, the PPP may be ordered by the Judge presiding over the divorce.  Generally, as with other issues in a divorce, it is best that the parties develop their own parenting plan by agreement – rather leaving such a deeply personal family matter to a Judge who only gets a snapshot of your life and your case.  For purposes of this post, we will discuss an agreed PPP.

So, what is a PPP? A PPP is ultimately the rule book that the parties will follow regarding raising their children post-divorce. It covers parenting time, child(ren) exchange time and place, who pays health insurance for the child(ren), who pays for day care, who makes religious and or health decisions for the child(ren), child support, and more until the child(ren) reach the age of majority.  Some parents address college expenses, the purchase of a vehicle for the child(ren), payment for extra curricular activities, travel and more as part of their PPP.  Without a clear and concise PPP establishing the rights, duties and obligations of the parents, disputes, confusion, problems and even a post-divorce law suit are sure to follow.

Generally, a PPP addresses all aspects dealing with the minor child(ren) of a marriage.  Thus, a PPP is a very important part of the divorce process and should be taken very seriously during the negotiations process.  An experienced family law attorney can assist you by protecting your rights and crafting a PPP that will be in the best interest of your minor child(ren) and will help you and your spouse co-parent effectively and without conflict.

Child support is one of the key elements in a PPP. Clients want to know who will pay child support and how much the monthly obligation will be.   In a Tennessee, the number is not just “made up” or “ball parked”.  In fact, child support is determined by a formula through the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. To determine child support the following items are needed:  1) proof of income from each parent; 2) a proposed parenting schedule which determines the number of days per year each parent will have with the child(ren); 3) Proof of any potential support obligation off set such as an existing support obligation for other children outside of this marriage; 4) Proof of any special needs and or medical care for the child(ren) of the marriage; 5) Proof of work-related child care costs; 6) Proof of health insurance costs; and 7) other related documents or expenses. This information is incorporated into the Child Support Calculator and the presumptive child support obligation is determined.

The creation of a PPP that works for your family is not only essential to achieve a divorce, it is also essential for successful co-parenting.   And, just because the parents want to do X or Y doesn’t mean the Court will approve it.  Your attorney can walk through your goals and options with you to help you know if your goals will comply with Tennessee law and even what your Judge will agree to as part of the divorce.  For example, some Courts will agree to a true 50/50 parenting plan and some will not agree to it unless the parents have already been following a 50/50 plan for a significant amount of time without issue. 

The Golden Rule is that the plan must be in the best interests of the child and not just what Mom or Dad wants or thinks should happen.  In considering what to put into your parenting plan, put your child(ren) and their emotional an physical well being first and put current divorce conflicts with your spouse to the side.  Remember, the PPP is about your child(ren) and what is best for them and not trying to “score” one against your spouse or trying to use the child(ren) to hurt or punish your spouse.

The PPP will also be incorporated into your Final Decree of Divorce.  This means the Plan is not a “suggestion”. It means it is court Order and will be the controlling document regarding parenting time and obligations until the child(ren) graduate high school *and* have reached at least age 18 years of age.

Have questions about creating or modifying your PPP?  Please call us today at 615-200-7239.

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Legal Questions and Answers


fullsizerenderHarold E. Rushton, Esq. is a Nashville, Tennessee based Divorce, Separation and Criminal Defense Attorney serving Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Dickson and Wilson Counties.  Call The Rushton Law Firm, PLLC  Phone:  (615)576-0071 or (615)815-9967


Call today for a FREE consultation (615)576-0071 or (615)576-0071

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Divorce – Questions and Answers

divorceWe frequently receive questions from people that are either in the process of divorce or are soon to begin a divorce.  We have decided to share some of those questions and answers here for those of you that may benefit from this information.

Here’s a question that we recently received and answered:

Can a wife claim abandonment in TN if husband has not lived at home for 1 month?

“Wife of 6 yrs has become addicted to drugs and children were removed from the home as a result. Husband moved out of home as well after being told by family court he should not allow the children to have contact with their mother until she fulfills treatment. The home has been under Chapt. 13 bankruptcy for over 2 yrs. Wife has been a stay at home mother for 1.5 yrs. She is now threatening to file for spouse abandonment to have husband’s wages garnished in order to keep the home as residence and provide herself with income. Husband has bank statements and records showing he has provided income to her while he has been absent from the home. The situation has been ongoing for just over 1 month.”

By Harold E. Rushton,  Attorney at Law

You have posed some interesting questions regarding divorce and separation. First, the answer to your main question is no. One month is an insufficient period of time to establish abandonment grounds for divorce in Tennessee.  The law in Tennessee states the parties must reside separate and apart for at least (2) two years to establish abandonment grounds for divorce in Tennessee.

The facts as you have presented them do provide potential grounds for divorce of which the husband could raise.  Those grounds are drug addiction by the wife.  Under Tennessee law, habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of either party, when the spouse has contracted either such habit after marriage are sufficient grounds for divorce.

If the husband is the primary parent, once he files for divorce, he may file a pendente lite action to seek support from the wife if she is failing to contribute support to the minor children and the burden is solely his to support the children. Whether relief is granted will depend upon his and her earning power, assets maintained by each party, etc. Those are all fact specific and must be determined by the court after hearing all of the facts of the case.

You really need to seek the advice of an attorney regarding this matter.  Here at The Rushton Law Firm, PLLC, we focus on divorce and separation so we can guide you through this process and help to protect your rights along the way. I hope that I have been helpful in answering your questions. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you should have any further questions.  We are located here in Davidson County, Tennessee and are happy to assist any time. I wish you all the best in the outcome of your case.


Harold E. Rushton, Esq. is a Nashville, Tennessee based Divorce, Separation and Criminal Defense Attorney serving Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Dickson and Wilson Counties.

The Rushton Law Firm, PLLC  Phone:  (615)576-0071 or (615)815-9967

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