Tag Archives: divorce nashville

In Defense of Step-moms (and dads)

Remember Cinderella’s step-mom? “Light the fire! Fix the breakfast! Wash the dishes! Do the mopping! And the cleaning and the shopping!”* She was definitely not the kind of step-parent a child would ever want or need. She was the original “step-monster”.

I’m a step-parent, but to grown adult children with children of their own. But whether the children are very small or adults on their own, there is no tried-and-true manual for step-parents to “fit” into the new family dynamic. After all, each family is unique with their own way of doing things, patterns of communication, and traditions. And, maybe the step-parent is not entirely welcome, especially if the “original parent” feels replaced, angry, jealous, and/or threatened and communicates this directly or indirectly to the children.

Nothing could be worse for your children. Several years ago, a woman I know (we will call her Linda) met the fiancé of her former spouse.  Sadly, Linda took most every opportunity to criticize the woman.  She would not listen to reason nor dignity. Her child marinated daily in her mother’s hatred for the fiancé.

The fiancé appeared to love the child. She attended the child’s events at school, church and gymnastics.  She sent her home with treats, and otherwise demonstrated her attachment to her.  The child wanted to love the step-mom but Linda sabotaged it in every possible way.

The child’s father was no “winner”. Having been previously granted only supervised visitation, his ability to properly care for the child was in question. Linda failed to grasp that the fiancé could ensure her well-being during the father’s parenting time. We encouraged Linda to make an ally of the fiancé but she refused. The fiancé became the step-mom. She gave up trying to be friendly and joined her new husband in the ongoing war between the parents.  The child suffered and exhibited signs of emotional distress as a result of her parent’s antics.

Don’t be “Linda”. Love your child more than you hate their step-parent.

So, what do you do when the step-mom / step-dad appears? To be direct, you do not have a right to prevent your child’s other parent from dating or remarrying. They have all the same rights as you do to live a full life.

So, it is time for a little introspection.

First, do you welcome a step-parent in your child’s life? If not, why not? Be specific. Write it down. Odds are if you are unable to lay out the “why” on paper, it may be more of an emotional reason than a rational one. Note, it is not enough that you “just don’t want someone else in the child’s life”. If that is the only thing you can come up with, take a breath and put on your adult shoes. Life moves forward whether we want it to or not. Adulting is not always easy, but it is what we are called to do once we have children.

Second, take inventory of your emotions. Are you angry? Jealous? Threatened? And, if so, why? Are these emotions something you want your child to marinate in? Even if you don’t openly verbalize your unhappiness about the step-parent, your child will still pick up on the non-verbal cues.  Keep adult emotions and feelings away from the kids. They can’t fix it and the are very sensitive to the emotional well-being of the hand that rocks the cradle. In short, keep the kids out of it.

Third, is it the thought of your calling someone else “Mommy” or “Daddy”?  Please know, if you seek to maintain your place in that child’s life and take care of your obligations as a parent financially and emotionally, there is no reason why you won’t remain “Mommy/Daddy”. Yes, seeing your child get attached to a new dating partner can be hard (Divorced and Dating with Kids is the subject of another article). But, by creating and maintaining a respectful relationship with the new step-parent, you will know someone is ensuring your child’s well-being when you are not there, and that peace of mind is priceless.

Fourth, do you believe the step-parent is in any way a threat to the safety and well-being of your child? Does he or she have a history of drug use? Violence? High risk activities? Child molestation? Alcoholism? Criminal activity?  If you have any of these concerns, then stop reading and call your attorney right now.  The “best interests” of the child is the gold standard in parenting time allocation. 

Our hope is that your co-parent will be respectful and reasonable in how they handle introducing the new spouse into the family. Remember, it is not always the easiest task for the parents, step-parent or the child. Show each other some grace and give it some time. Take it slow. Open a dialogue with your co-parent about any concerns you have and collaborate – don’t try to dictate. This is not your decision. Yes, your child is involved but again, your ex has every right to move on in his or her life. Collaboration with your co-spouse will ease the transition.

Life evolves. You will want the same considerations when you fall in love again and or remarry. The shoe (glass slipper) will be on the other foot and you could be the step-monster, I mean step-mom.

Good luck!

 

*from Cinderella’s, “The Work Song” Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Court, Family Law, Litigation

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.

fullsizerender

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under Litigation, Questions & Answers

The California Raisins on Truth, Lies, Dating and Divorce

People say believe half of what you see.  Son, and none of what you hear.  I can’t help being confused.  If it’s true, please tell me dear.”  

Okay, so maybe it was actually Marvin Gaye who vocalized that famous line in his song “I heard it through the grapevine”, but it still holds true.  California RaisinPeople are not always…. uh, forth coming about past marriages and especially the divorce(s).  If you have assets or children to protect, a little caution can go a long way towards protecting both your finances and your heart.

So, if you can’t believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, how do you know what the “truth” is?

A phone call to your local clerk’s office (which court houses divorce information differs by state) in the county where your love lives  or was divorced in, can reveal if your significant other has filed for divorce, is actually divorced and more.  The records also contain number of prior marriages, indicate who filed for divorce, the property division and more.  They are public records and the clerk’s office, depending on the size of the file, may be able to email or snail mail the document to you.

If the divorce was amicable or if the parties were committed to keeping their privacy, then the filings (the documents describing the position and responses of the parties in the case) will likely be short, concise, and “clean”.

If the divorce was not amicable, then the filings will likely be extensive and contain a lot of “dirt” on the marriage, the parties, and contested issues. Details regarding abuse, instability, drug use, affairs, poor parenting, financial issues, bank records, and so forth will be laid out in (embarrassing) detail.  Reviewing the full case file, including subsequent lawsuits between the parties, will give you a good idea of who your significant other is under pressure and an idea of their character as well.

What you do with this information?

It is up to you.  What is seen cannot be unseen.  Either way, you will be able to make informed decisions regarding your relationship and won’t be hearing the news through the grapevine.

-TLHR

Leave a Comment

Filed under Litigation

Dear Facebook. I want a divorce!

You may have started your relationship online but can you end it that way too? Yes, in New York, a woman served her soon-to-be former spouse with divorce papers via facebook.

facbook messages images

Here in Tennessee, one is typically “served” in person, through their attorney, or by leaving service of process with a person of suitable age and discretion who lives with the Defendant. Note that service of process procedures can and do differ by state. After all, one needs a head’s up if your spouse is divorcing you or you have some other pending legal action against you.

But what if you can’t find you former flame or even where they live? See the article below for a woman who found herself in this position for a number of years. The only thing she did know was that her husband regularly checked facebook.

Last year, a New York court allowed her to achieve service of process for a divorce by sending the documents via facebook. The social networking site even documents if the message was read and at what time. Imagine opening your facebook private messages to find you are being sued for divorce. It is taking “You got Served!” to a whole other (electronic) level.

Is service of process for a lawsuit by facebook the coming norm?

Unlikely. Service, even through a process server, is to ensure one has personal notice of a pending legal action. The key words here are “personal” and “notice”. Our system is designed to ensure you have adequate and proper notice of the legal action so that you can prepare a defense and/or otherwise address the issue at hand.

Again, in most cases and states, while this type of service won’t be accepted anytime soon, it is a little something for you to think about the next time you check your fb account….

 

See Washington Post Article here.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Civil Procedure, Family Law, Service of Process