News

Court Orders Minor Modifications to Certain Divorce Forms

The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved minor modifications to the plain language forms for uncontested divorces with no minor children, as recommended by the Access to Justice Commission. These changes were necessary to ensure that the plain language forms adopted in 2011 for uncontested divorces with no minor children are consistent with the same forms that were adopted in 2016 for uncontested divorces with minor children, according to the court documents. The order as well as the changes can be found here.
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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at http://www.tba.org/submit-an-article, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at http://www.cletn.com/.

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TSC: Prevailing Party Entitled to Contractually Agreed-Upon Attorney’s Fees

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed a decision of the Court of Appeals, which declined to award attorney’s fees on appeal in a post-divorce proceeding. In a divorce case, the husband and wife agreed to a provision that would award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in any subsequent legal proceedings. A trial court awarded the wife, as the prevailing party, the attorney’s fees she requested, but the Court of Appeals declined to award fees for the appeal. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals must apply standard rules regarding contractual interpretation and enforcement.
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Sentenced to Debt: When You Can't Pay Your Fines

In the current issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Vidhi S. Joshi looks into what happens within the criminal justice system in Tennessee when a person cannot pay their fines. Read the feature “Sentenced to Debt.” Columns this month include "Redefining Relocation," by Marlene Moses and Benjamin Russ; John Day writing about "Mothers, Minors and Medical Bills"; and Bill Haltom following the saga of where the bodies of President and Mrs. James K. Polk will land for eternity.

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TBA Convention in Kingsport is Just Around the Corner

Registration is open for the 2017 TBA Annual Convention. This years programming offers plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances with colleagues from across the state. The highlight comes Thursday night with the Kingsport Karnival at the downtown Farmers Market. Along with fabulous food and drink, there will be live music from two bands, an aerialist, juggler, magician, body and face painters, caricaturist and more. Plus, you'll have access to the fabulous Kingsport Carousel, the delightful project of community artisans. Special thanks to Eastman for support of this event! 

This years convention also offers 12 hours of CLE programming, highlighted by sessions on the Hatfields and McCoys, The Neuroscience of Decision-Making, and the popular Better Right Now wellness program. It is all set at the beautiful MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. To receive the TBA $129 room rate, you must book your reservation by May 23. Book your room online now or call 423-578-6600.

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Call For Submissions — Law Practice Pointers

One of the benefits of being a TBA Section Member is having access to information from experienced practitioners to assist in your day-to-day practice. The sharing of this information amongst colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession. It is also a way of helping each other to maneuver the evolving legal market and strengthen your legal practice.

How can you help your fellow Section Members?  If you have some Law Practice Pointers you would like to share with your fellow section members, write an article between 300-500 words and submit it to the Section Coordinator for review and approval. These Law Practice Pointers can be related to a court opinion, piece of legislation, or current event or industry trend that affects the practice of law as it relates to the specific Section. The main requirement is to make sure the article gives lawyers practical tips, based on experience, to include in their day-to-day practice.

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Knox Judge Grants Woman Rights of Husband in Same-sex Divorce

A Knox County judge has granted a woman the legal rights of a husband as part of a same-sex divorce proceeding, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. In a reversal of his decision in the case last year, Judge Greg McMillan approved the divorce of Erica Witt and Sabrina Witt, and designated Erica Witt as the father of the couple’s daughter, who was conceived through artificial insemination. The ruling appears to contradict a recently passed Tennessee law that was inspired by the Witt case. That law requires courts to define terms in state law by their “natural and ordinary meaning.” 
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Suit Challenges New ‘Natural and Ordinary Meaning’ Law

Just four days after Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law, the legislation which requires undefined terms in state law to be interpreted with their “natural and ordinary meaning” is facing a lawsuit, the Tennessean reports. Four same-sex couples filed suit in Davidson County Chancery Court today, naming the governor, Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner and the Tennessee Department of Health as defendants. Each of the couples have conceived a child via a sperm donor, and are concerned that the new law could threaten their parental rights.
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Court Considers What’s Real, What’s ‘Fake News’ in Jones Child Custody Case

Lawyers for Alex Jones, conservative radio and YouTube host, and his ex-wife are battling in a child custody case about whether his online persona is who he really is, the ABA Journal reports. Jones, the personality behind Infowars, is famous for promoting conspiracy theories, but his attorney is arguing that the views presented on his show are all an act, calling him a “performance artist.” Attorneys for his ex-wife have submitted multiple Infowars videos as evidence to prove that Jones is “not a stable person.”
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CLE Outlines How to Change Your Practice to Meet Market Demands

The fourth and final CLE in the “Modern Law Practice Series” will explore emerging trends in the delivery of legal services and how focusing on consumer behavior could benefit your law firm. This session will examine the ways in which consumer-facing companies like Avvo and LegalZoom have capitalized on tailoring services to the needs of the modern legal client and how you can adjust your practice to meet those same demands. The program will be held April 13, and will be available in person and on-demand.

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Wedding CLE Looks at Everything from Prenups to Blended Families

Last chance to register! On March 29, experience a special wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, the Cordelle. Sessions will touch on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, how to handle blended families, and the ins and outs of tax planning. Brunch will be included, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want.

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Supreme Court Clarifies Parental Relocation Statute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has clarified a law on divorced parents relocating with their children and held that Tennessee’s Parental Relocation Statute’s legislative intent was to make parental relocation with children clear cut. This statute applies to parents with a court-ordered parenting plan. In the case, Cassidy Lynne Aragon v. Reynaldo Manuel Aragon, the court held unanimously that the parent spending the majority of time with the child would be allowed to relocate with that child unless the opposing parent met a high standard of proof on one of three grounds: (1) that the proposed move would pose a threat of serious harm to the child; (2) that the relocating parent’s motive was vindictive; or (3) that the move did not have a reasonable purpose. The decision reversed Court of Appeals and trial court decisions.

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Supreme Court Clarifies Parental Relocation Statute

The Tennessee Supreme Court has clarified a law on divorced parents relocating with their children and held that Tennessee’s Parental Relocation Statute’s legislative intent was to make parental relocation with children clear cut. This statute applies to parents with a court-ordered parenting plan. In the case, Cassidy Lynne Aragon v. Reynaldo Manuel Aragon, the court held unanimously that the parent spending the majority of time with the child would be allowed to relocate with that child unless the opposing parent met a high standard of proof on one of three grounds: (1) that the proposed move would pose a threat of serious harm to the child; (2) that the relocating parent’s motive was vindictive; or (3) that the move did not have a reasonable purpose. The decision reversed Court of Appeals and trial court decisions.

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Wedding CLE at the Cordelle

Experience a special wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, The Cordelle. The faculty will lift the veil on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, how to handle blended families, and the ins and outs of tax planning. Brunch will be included, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want. Learn more and register here.

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New Alimony Bench Book Available

The 15th Edition Alimony Bench Book is now available. TBA Family Law Section members can download the book free from the section's resource page after logging in. Others can purchase a loose-leaf printed version of this publication for $40 per book ($50 in a 3-ring binder) from the online TBA Bookstore or by contacting the TBA at (615) 383-7421. The book, which includes published and unpublished cases from Aug. 8, 2003, through Dec. 31, 2016, is compiled by the section's Alimony Committee under direction of its chair, Amy Amundsen.

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Now Available: 15th Edition Alimony Bench Book

The 15th Edition Alimony Bench Book is now available FREE in downloadable format to the members of the TBA Family Law Section. The 15th Edition Alimony Bench Book includes Published and Unpublished cases from Aug. 8, 2003, through Dec. 31, 2016. To download your FREE copy of this publication, please follow these steps:

1. Go to the TBA.org website and log in. If you have not used the website before, please use your email address as username and request a password.

2. Go the the Family Law Section web pages and access the 15th Edition Alimony Bench Bar Book

You can download the full Alimony Bench Book in PDF format or individual chapters in PDF or Microsoft Word format.

A loose-leaf printed version of this publication may also be purchased for $40 per book ($50 in a 3-ring binder) from the online TBA Bookstore or by contacting the Tennessee Bar Association at (615) 383-7421.

The TBA would like to thank Alimony Committee Chair Amy Amundsen and all of the members of this committee for their hard work and commitment to this publication. The committee's hope is that this book will assist judges in their attempts to award consistent alimony in cases across Tennessee.

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What Would You Like to See in Family Law Section Connect?

Are you interested in reading about a particular topic in the next TBA Family Law Section Connect?  Do you have an article you would like to submit?  The section is looking for contributors to submit articles, case law updates, legislative updates or recommendations for topics. If you would like to submit an article or an idea, please feel free to contact TBA Section Coordinator Christy Gibson.

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Join Us at The Cordelle for the TBA Wedding CLE

Join us on March 29 for the TBA's Wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, The Cordelle, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want. Sessions will touch on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, tax planning, marital assests, adoption and more. Don't forget about those "tortes" and contracts for venues, photographers and entertainment that keep the guests happy! 
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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AOC Seeks Attorneys for Child Support Contempt Services in Nashville

The Administrative Office of the Courts often contracts attorneys to represent individuals unable to afford legal representation in cases in which a client is facing contempt of court charges for failure to pay court-ordered child support. The AOC is seeking attorneys who are interested in contracting with the AOC to streamline performance of this service in Davidson County Juvenile Court. The contract would be for March 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.

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Judge Has Personal Connection in Fight Against Opioid Crisis

A Tennessean profile of Dandridge judge Duane Sloane highlights how the circuit judge came to fight for recovery over harsh sentences for addicts. His methods have been deemed controversial by some, especially ones aimed at pregnant mothers with addiction, but he cites his family’s adoption of a baby born with withdrawal symptoms as his motivation to fight for solutions to the crisis.
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Learn About Immigration Issues That Affect Your Practice at Forum

Dear Section Member,
 
I would like to tell you about the Immigration Law Forum 2017, a program our Executive Council designed in order to assist your practice. The Forum will be held on April 7 at the TBA Bar Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., divided into two separate portions.

The morning program is titled “Immigration Benefits, Court, Enforcement and Removal."  Presentations will focus on family immigration and court issues facing both new and experienced immigration attorneys, family law and criminal law attorneys.  
 
The afternoon program is titled “Investment Immigration Government, Company, and Global Perspectives."  Sessions will focus on U.S. and international business investment immigration issues facing both immigration and non-immigration attorneys such as corporate counsel, employment law attorneys and technology law attorneys.
 
Here is a list of the speakers/panels for this year’s Forum:
 
Lynuel Dennis, Field Office Director for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
 
Catherine Chargualaf, Assistant Field Office Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Enforcement and Removal Operations
 
Brandon Josephsen, Deputy Chief Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement
 
Clay Banks, Southern Middle Tennessee Regional Director of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (Nashville)
                                                                 
Dale Carroll, CEO of Appalachian EB-5 Regional Center (Asheville, N.C.)
                                                                 
Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, Consul General of British Consulate General Atlanta (Atlanta)
 
Fadi Abou-Ghantous, Executive and Global Sales Leader of General Electric Power (Chattanooga)
                                                                 
Tom Przybojewski, Owner of Astra Inc. (Miami)
 
Scott Jones, Financial Advisor at Merrill Edge of Bank America (Chattanooga)
                                               
John Anthony Castro, International Tax Attorney & Managing Partner of Castro & Co. LLC (Washington D.C.)
                                               
Marco Scanu, Managing Partner of Visa Business Plans (Miami)
 
Overall, this year will be a very dynamic year for immigration/global law issues, and it is very important that we as attorneys keep aware of the ever changing law environment and assist ourselves in remaining relevant with the changing times, and markets.
 
Sincerely,
 
Terry Olsen, Immigration Section Chair

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Legal Battle Over Senator's Estate Continues

The legal dispute between the late U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson’s wife and his two adult sons from another marriage will continue, the Tennessean reports based on court documents filed last week. Thompson’s sons, Tony and Dan Thompson, filed suit against Thompson’s wife, Jeri Thompson, in August, accusing her of forcing him to make changes to his estate plan. New court documents show a fight over what information Jeri Thompson must turn over as the case moves forward. 
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‘State of Juvenile Court’ Focuses on Family Trauma

At the second annual State of the Juvenile Court Address today, Shelby County Judge Dan Michael said the court is making significant progress on reforms mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also called on the community to help break the cycle of trauma that lands young people in state custody. “I’m a juvenile court judge. I’m not the parent of these children. If I have a good parent or parents, I rarely see their children in court,” he said. WMC News 5 has the story.

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TBJ Covers Immigration, Child Sexual Abuse, Family Law, Humor

Companies’ hiring of employees using work visas is a tedious business, but Nashville lawyer Dan E. White details it in the January Tennessee Bar Journal. Since the printing of the issue, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased filing fees by an average of 21 percent. Read the article online, which now includes the specifics on the updated fees. Also in this issue, John Day writes about child sexual abuse victims, and Marlene Eskind Moses and Benjamin Russ explain the doctrine of “inconvenient forum.” Bill Haltom looks at the flip side of “absence of malice.” Read the January TBJ.

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