Thursday, April 14, 2016

Going through the big "D" and don't mean Dallas?

  Although this post has a light-hearted title, the subject can be very heavy. Divorce can be a difficult situation for every party involved. It is the legal undoing of two people's assets, liabilities, and everything in between that make up the fabric of their lives. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the inevitable changes are important when you are going through a divorce.

  The first decision to be made is whether the divorce will be contested or uncontested. If you can come to a full agreement, the divorce is uncontested and the process is more simple. If you cannot come to a full agreement, the divorce is contested and requires negotiation, mediation, and, in some cases, a trial.

  In an uncontested divorce, the parties complete the necessary paperwork and file with the Court. If children are involved, parents must take a parenting class and file the certificate of completion with the Court.

  In a contested divorce, one party will begin the process by filing a complaint for divorce. The other party will then file their answer to that complaint and, possibly, a counter-complaint. The parties or their attorneys will then enter the negotiation phase. If negotiation is unsuccessful, the parties must attend mediation with a third party. In most cases, an agreement is able to be reached in either of these two phases. In some cases, mediation is not successful and the parties must have a trial to allow a judge to decide the issues, which can be a lengthy process.

  In Tennessee, the mandatory waiting period for a divorce from the time of filing is 60 days if the parties have no minor children and 90 days if the parties have minor children. This means that the divorce cannot be finalized until the time period runs.

  If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce, contact us to get answers to your questions and let us assist you in making the best decisions. (615) 890-2399 www.bestmurfreesborolawyer.com

Monday, April 4, 2016

Lower Penalties for Drugs and Higher Penalties for DUI? "YES" says TN House.

  Last week, the Tennessee House of Representatives approved a bill which would provide lighter penalties for some repeat drug offenders but increase penalties for repeat DUIs. HB1478 (http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/109/Amend/HA0891.pdf)was approved by the House last Thursday after being presented by Sumner County Republican William Lamberth, who is a former prosecutor. The goal is to prevent those with addictions from being saddled with a felony for repeat offenses of certain drug charges. This bill would give people charged with their 3rd drug offense or greater 11 months and 29 days in jail and keep a felony off of their criminal record.

  The bill would also increase the penalty for those charged with the 5th DUI or greater, ensuring they serve more jail time. The maximum penalty someone convicted of a 6th DUI could serve is 15 years in prison. It seems the goal of this bill is to allow some mercy to those who have drug addictions, while ensuring habitual DUI offenders stay off the roads.

  It is not clear exactly when the Senate will vote on this bill but it could be as early as this week. Needless to say, if this is passed it will seriously affect all habitual drug and DUI offenders. Call us today if you have questions about any charges you may have.
(615) 890-2399 www.bestmurfreesborolawyer.com

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Establishing Paternity in TN

  It's a situation that we see too often: Parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule for a child and the father cannot see the child because he has no legal rights. A mother may move away with the child and the father disagrees but has no grounds to contest the move because he has no legal rights.

  In Tennessee, a mother's husband at the time of the birth of child is the legal father of that child, whether or not he is the biological father. If the mother and father are not married at the time of the child's birth, the parents may sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and have the father's name placed on the birth certificate. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and birth certificate, however, are not sufficient legal proof that a man is a child's father.

  If the parents were not married at the time of the child's birth and the father wants visitation and legal rights to the child, he must ask for an order of the court. A mother and father can agree to paternity and ask the court to establish the father's rights to the child. Alternatively, if they disagree, the father is entitled to a paternity test to prove he is the father of the child. Once the parties agree or a successful DNA test is complete, the court will produce an order of paternity and establish visitation and other legal rights.

  Establishing paternity is a very important step in being able to parent your child. Many fathers wait until there is an issue with visitation or support before they ask the court to establish them as the father's child. Due to the length of time this can take, a father may miss out on a significant portion of a child's life. If you were not married to your child's mother at the time of the child's birth and have never been legally declared the child's father, do not procrastinate in establishing paternity. We have successfully helped establish paternity for fathers in multiple counties and we would be happy to help you. Contact us with questions today at (615) 890-2399.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Need Your Criminal Record Expunged? Here's How!

 For many people with a criminal record, their convictions affect future employment and business opportunities. For people charged with felonies, their criminal record prevents them from owning a firearm or traveling outside the country. Having a clean criminal record is also important due to many apartment and housing complexes requiring a background check before allowing a person to live there.

  In order to avoid all of the above obstacles, you should attempt to have your record expunged as soon as possible, depending on your case. Expungements in Tennessee are governed under the statute T.C.A. 40-32-101. This statute states that in order to be eligible for expungment, defendant must have:
  • No other convictions in any jurisdiction, 
  • Have completed all terms of probation, parole or imprisonment must be completed and 5 years must have lapsed since the completion of the sentence, 
  • Have met all conditions of release, 
  • Have a copy of the record of the conviction to be expunged, 
  • Have paid all fines, restitution and court costs, 
  • Conviction must be for a Class E felony included on the inclusion list or a misdemeanor not included on the exclusion list, and
  • You must have a government issued ID. 
  The list of included and excluded offenses can be found on the Tennessee District Attorney's website: http://www.tndagc.com/expunge/Expungement%20Checklist.pdf.

  Once you find out if you are eligible for expungement, you must petition the court for an expungement. The form for the petition can be found on the Chancery Court's website: http://rcchancery.com/forms.htm. You must also pay the expungement fee to the appropriate court clerk's office. 

  A licensed attorney experienced in criminal law can assist you in having your criminal record expunged. Contact our office at (615) 890-2399 for assistance with your case.