Tag Archives: divorce

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.”

ANSWER:
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.

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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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Spousal Abuse & Literal Payback

domestic violenceLast month, an Ohio Court awarded Jennifer Kershaw $1,580,000 in compensatory damages and $20 million for punitive damages.  The  Defendant was her former spouse, Jerry Bailey.  The lawsuit was over physical injuries she received from being punched in the face repeatedly by Mr. Bailey while the two were still married.  Mr. Bailey was fined $100, sentenced to two years probation, and served a mere two days in jail after a conviction of misdemeanor domestic violence for his then wife’s broken facial bones.  Two days in jail.  $100.  Probation.   Case over?  Not yet.

Genesis 2, verse 24 reads  “… man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  Aside from the spiritual aspects this invokes, it is the “one flesh” that was used indirectly to deny women the right to vote, to own property, and other core rights we as women now take for granted.  Women were considered part and parcel of their husband’s person and even property, depending on the time and culture.  If the two were “one flesh”, a woman’s individual rights merged with of those of her spouse.  The rights belonged to him alone, not her individually.  And to be fair, men could not sue their wives either.

Times change.  Tennessee abolished interspousal tort immunity in 1983 with Davis v. Davis, 657 S.W. 2nd 753 (1983).  In Davis, a wife sued her husband for injuries she received from his negligent operation of a boat.  That case opened the door for suits against spouses in Tennessee, but that open door has not turned into an open flood gate.  While relatively few, it is still possible to pursue an action in tort against a spouse in Tennessee.

While the Kershaw judgment will be reduced under Ohio’s caps for punitive and non-economic damages, the case sends a message that domestic abuse – by either spouse – is not okay and will not be tolerated.

Whether you are male or female, if you are facing domestic abuse, get help.  Being hit is never “your fault”.  Filing suit is not your first  step – but getting and staying safe is.  We can assist you with Orders of Protection, filing for divorce, custody or suit when you are ready.

Click here and here for Nashville area resources.

Click here to read more about Ms. Kershaw’s case.

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Social Media, Divorce and Inappropriate Marital Conduct

Divorce. It can be one of the emotionally painful experiences in one’s life. The urge to show your soon-to-be former spouse that you are “moving on” with a new love and out on the town instead of waiting at home for her or him to return can be quite powerful. Almost irresistible. Resist!

divorce cake FacebookAs an attorney, I guide my clients not to publish their “moving on” moments on facebook or other social media and just keep it off social media period.  Maybe your spouse may feel jealous of your latest loves after seeing you online going out night after night in downtown Nashville. Maybe not. But, your shared moments are well-documenting what the court would likely see as Inappropriate Marital Conduct – which is grounds for divorce in Tennessee. In other words, you are building a substantial case against yourself, selfie by selfie, all without your spouse or his/her attorney lifting a finger, other than saving the pictures to be used at trial.  And, even if you delete content in a dramatic effort to clean up your social media history, it is still discoverable.  Even deleted, once posted, it never actually goes away.  People have long memories.  The internet’s is longer, as in forever.

To read more on the impact of social media on divorce please click here.

Divorce is difficult enough without making it harder on yourself. Keep your social media clean and consistent with your position in the divorce. In the end, your attorney will be glad you did, and so will you.

T. Leigh Hearn-Rushton

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