<body><!-- --><div id="b-navbar"><a href="http://www.blogger.com/" id="b-logo" title="Go to Blogger.com"><img src="http://www.blogger.com/img/navbar/1/logobar.gif" alt="Blogger" width="80" height="24" /></a><div id="b-sms" class="b-mobile"><a href="sms:?body=Hi%2C%20check%20out%20Knight%20on%20Family%20Law%20-%20Tennessee%20Family%20Law%20Blog%20-%20Tennessee%20Divorce%20Law%20Blog%20at%20knightonfamilylaw.com">Send As SMS</a></div><form id="b-search" name="b-search" action="http://search.blogger.com/"><div id="b-more"><a href="http://www.blogger.com/" id="b-getorpost"><img src="http://www.blogger.com/img/navbar/1/btn_getblog.gif" alt="Get your own blog" width="112" height="15" /></a><a href="http://www.blogger.com/redirect/next_blog.pyra?navBar=true" id="b-next"><img src="http://www.blogger.com/img/navbar/1/btn_nextblog.gif" alt="Next blog" width="72" height="15" /></a></div><div id="b-this"><input type="text" id="b-query" name="as_q" /><input type="hidden" name="ie" value="UTF-8" /><input type="hidden" name="ui" value="blg" /><input type="hidden" name="bl_url" value="knightonfamilylaw.com" /><input type="image" src="http://www.blogger.com/img/navbar/1/btn_search_this.gif" alt="Search This Blog" id="b-searchbtn" title="Search this blog with Google Blog Search" onclick="document.forms['b-search'].bl_url.value='knightonfamilylaw.com'" /><input type="image" src="http://www.blogger.com/img/navbar/1/btn_search_all.gif" alt="Search All Blogs" value="Search" id="b-searchallbtn" title="Search all blogs with Google Blog Search" onclick="document.forms['b-search'].bl_url.value=''" /><a href="javascript:BlogThis();" id="b-blogthis">BlogThis!</a></div></form></div><script type="text/javascript"><!-- function BlogThis() {Q='';x=document;y=window;if(x.selection) {Q=x.selection.createRange().text;} else if (y.getSelection) { Q=y.getSelection();} else if (x.getSelection) { Q=x.getSelection();}popw = y.open('http://www.blogger.com/blog_this.pyra?t=' + escape(Q) + '&u=' + escape(location.href) + '&n=' + escape(document.title),'bloggerForm','scrollbars=no,width=475,height=300,top=175,left=75,status=yes,resizable=yes');void(0);} function blogspotInit() {} --></script><script type="text/javascript"> blogspotInit();</script><div id="space-for-ie"></div>

Monday, January 30, 2006

Virtual Visitation Law In Wisconsin

The Wisconsin legislature recently passed a bill addressing virtual visitation. (If you are unfamiliar with the concept of virtual visitation, see this post.)

According to a summary published by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, the bill provides that electronic communication may be used only to supplement -- not replace -- physical visitation. The bill also prohibits a court from considering the availability of electronic communication as a factor in support of custody changes or in support of approval of a custodial parent's relocation.

Why should you care? For on thing, this law could be used as persuasive authority if you have a dispute involving virtual visitation. For example, if the other party argues that the availability of video conferencing supports a relocation request you can point out that the Wisconsin legislature carefully considered and rejected that suggestion because it would be bad public policy.

Thanks to the Iowa Family Law Blog for reporting this development.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Creative Discovery Techniques

The Texas Bar Association's Ten Minute Mentor website has an interesting video on creative discovery techniques for family law cases. The presentation is a bit kitschy, but it includes some useful tips on valuing assets, using third-party subpoenas, and consulting unusual information sources.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cohabitation Can Be Expensive

Robert Thym had a good thing going. He was looking at $4,000 per month in alimony over twenty years. But nine years after the divorce his former wife got a court to terminate the payments because Thym moved in with his girlfriend. (Specifically, he was spending six nights a week with her and eating ten meals a week at her house.)

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision that the $4,000 per month was alimony in futuro rather than a division of marital property. Why did this matter? Because under the Cohabitation Statute, alimony in futuro may be suspended if a spouse lives with a third person. Proof of cohabitation gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that the alimony recipient does not need the amount of alimony awarded.

The Court of Appeals did reverse the trial court's decision to terminate the alimony payments -- the statute says payments may be suspended, not terminated. (Any bets on how long it will take Mr. Thym to move back into his condo?)

Unanswered Question: The Cohabitation Statute allows a court to suspend "all or part" of the alimony obligation. Did the evidence really support a suspension of all payments? Are six nights and ten meals a week a substitute for $4,000 a month? What kind of food were these people eating?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No Child Support, No License

The Tennessee Department of Human Services reports that more than 6,000 Tennessee parents are having licenses revoked for failure to pay child support. The revocations are part of an annual crackdown by the state departments of Safety, Commerce & Insurance, Health, and Education, and by the Tennessee Wildlife and Resources Agency.

According to DHS, $1.6 million in back child support has been collected since parents were notified in October that they faced license revocation. The largest single payment was $21,000 and the average payment was $190.

For more information see:
Jackson Sun article
Family Law Prof Post
DHS press release

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Corporal Punishment in Tennessee

Tennessee does not have a lot of caselaw on the subject of corporal punishment in the family law context. One case that does discuss the issue is Ray v. Ray.

Citing Hawk v. Hawk, 855 S.W.2d 573 (Tenn. 1993), Ray notes that parents have a constitutional right to raise their children without interference from the state, unless their actions pose a risk of substantial harm to the child. The Ray court interpreted this to mean that a parent has a right to determine reasonable and non-abusive methods of discipline.

In Ray, the court upheld an order prohibiting a step-parent from administering corporal punishment. The opinion implies that if a natural parent has a "reasonable basis" for asking that a step-parent be prohibited from administering corporal punishment, the parent is "entitled" to an order prohibiting such conduct. The opinion further implies that a natural parent may not be prohibited from administering non-abusive corporal punishment.

Is there such a thing? The court declined to touch that issue with a ten-foot pole.