News

14th Alimony Bench Book Available

The 14th Edition of the Alimony Bench Book is now available from the TBA Family Law Section. Produced by the members of the section’s Alimony Committee, the book is available for purchase in a loose-leaf format for $40 or a three-ring binder for $50. To order the book, visit the TBA’s online bookstore or contact the TBA at (615) 383-7421. Members of the Family Law Section can download the new edition at no charge by logging in to TBA.org and going to the Resources link on the Family Law Section's webpage.  

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14th Edition of the Alimony Bench Book is Now Available

The 14th Edition Alimony Bench Book is now available FREE in downloadable format to the members of the TBA Family Law Section. The new edition includes Published and Unpublished cases from Aug. 8, 2003, through Dec. 31, 2015. To download your FREE copy of this publication, please follow these steps:

1. Log in to your account on the Tennessee Bar Association website (if you do not have a password or do not remember your password, use the "Request New Password" feature.

2. Visit the Alimony Bench Book page that contains links to the new edition and each individual section.

3. Download the Alimony Bench Book in either 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 Committees hope is that this book will assist judges in their attempts to award consistent alimony in cases across Tennessee.

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Court Reverses Alabama Decision Denying Lesbian Mother's Adoption

The U.S. Supreme Court today reversed an Alabama court’s refusal to recognize a lesbian mother’s adoption that she and her partner had been granted in Georgia. The Alabama Supreme Court in September ruled a Georgia court had mistakenly granted a woman custody of three children following her split from her partner. The nation’s Supreme Court said Alabama’s decision ignored a long-standing precedent that state courts must recognize rulings by courts in other states. Read more from USA Today.

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House Resolution Criticizes Same-Sex Marriage Decision

The Tennessee House of Representatives today passed a resolution expressing disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to legalize same-sex marriage. The chamber said it disagrees with the constitutional analysis used in Obergefell v. Hodges. Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Old Hickory, sponsor of the measure, called the High Court’s action “very dangerous.” She added, “Our law does not say that, it’s never said that, and it was never the intent of the General Assembly to do that.” Read more from The Tennessean.

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Changes to Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

Part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative package making changes to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act in SB2553/HB2572 includes clarifying the effective date and clarifying the definition of initiating tribunal. Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, passes the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, passes its companion out of the House Civil Justice Committee. The bill now heads to the Senate floor and the House Calendar and Rules Committee for consideration. 

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Summary of Recent LGBT Restriction Bills

The Tennessean offers a summary of half a dozen LGBT-related bills regarding marriage rights, defining gender roles and bathroom access. The list includes the "Natural Marriage" bill (HB 1412/SB 1437), the Counselor Protection bill (HB 1850/SB 1556) and the Birth Gender bill (HB 2600/SB 2275).

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Fowler Files Second Anti Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

The Tennessean reports an anti same-sex marriage lawsuit has been filed in Bradley County challenging the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling overturning bans on same-sex marriage. The suit, filed by attorney David Fowler, is the second case filed by the former state Senator challenging the landmark ruling. “These lawsuits have had the additional positive effect of helping an increasing number of Tennesseans begin to appreciate the important constitutional boundaries that the United States,” Fowler said.

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Metro Council Asks Delegation to Oppose Anti-Gay Marriage Bills

Nashville’s Metro Council has asked the Davidson County state delegation to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage and to oppose any bills that are anti-gay marriage. The council yesterday unanimously approved the resolution, The Tennessean reports. “This is letting folks know on the Hill that we request that they simply confer with the Supreme Court ruling on this matter,” said Nancy VanReece, one of the bill’s sponsors.

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ABA Family Law Award Honors Nashville Attorney

The ABA Section of Family Law Jean Crowe Pro Bono Award Committee is accepting nominations for attorneys who have made significant contributions to family law clients on a pro bono basis in their communities. The award includes $1,500 and reimbursement for travel expenses of up to $1,000 to attend the Family Law Section’s Award Luncheon in San Francisco. Nominations are due May 20. Crowe was the TBA's 2013 Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year.

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Judge McAfee Files Complaint Against Judge Sammons

Eighth Judicial Circuit Judge John McAfee has filed a complaint with the Board of Judicial Conduct against Campbell County General Sessions Judge Amanda Sammons, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. McAfee struck down several orders from Sammons to remove children from homes after lawyers for the state Department of Children Services said they did not seek removal of the children. Sammons on Friday attempted to appeal McAfee’s decisions.

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Court Rules on Parents' Constitutional Rights in Termination Proceedings

The Tennessee Supreme today held that a parent's constitutional right to fundamental fairness in termination proceedings does not require adoption of a separate procedure that allows parents to further appeal termination orders based on ineffective representation by appointed counsel. The Court argued that adding a separate procedure could result in years of litigation that “could cause immeasurable damage to children.” The Court imposed an additional safeguard that says in an appeal from an order terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeals must consider whether the evidence supports the trial court’s findings as to all the grounds for termination alleged and as to the best interests of the child, even if the parent fails to challenge these findings on appeal. Read the majority opinion in In Re Carrington H., authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, and the separate concurring and dissenting opinion, authored by Chief Justice Lee.

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Lawsuit Challenges Validity of Marriage Licenses

A lawsuit filed today by former state Sen. David Fowler on behalf of five Williamson County residents questions whether Tennessee law relative to the licensing of marriages is valid and enforceable following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges. At a Capitol press conference, Fowler asked, "How does anyone, regardless of the sexes of the parties, get a valid marriage license pursuant to an invalid law?" The lawsuit names Williamson County Clerk Elaine Anderson as the defendant and asks her to stop issuing marriage licenses until the lawsuit is resolved, The Tennessean reports. The lawsuit comes one day after the House Civil Justice subcommittee killed the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act

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In This Issue: A Twist on DUI, Family Law and Torts

You know how DUI works -- at least the kind involving alcohol, but what about when the driver is impaired by drugs? Circuit Judge Tom Wright and UT Law student Christopher Graham explain in the January Tennessee Bar Journal what's different about that and what you need to know. (You can also learn more on the same subject from this upcoming TBA CLE webcast.) TBJ family law columnist Marlene Eskind Moses covers employment benefits as separate property and John Day writes about unintended consequences in tort law (Breaking Bad fans will especially enjoy this take on it). Humor columnist Bill Haltom questions the legislature's interest in events on the campus of UT-Knoxville. Read the entire issue.

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Alabama Chief Justice Orders Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore today ordered probate judges in the state not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, CNN reports. Moore said that the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage was targeted at Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee and that the Court did not specifically address the Alabama ban. 

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Federal Authorities Involved in Abduction Case in Knox County

The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Marshals Service are involved in a federal case in Knox County involving a Mexican child living in Knoxville. Eugenio Garduno Guevara had been searching for his son since the mother and boy disappeared from Mexico in 2013. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports attorney Tom Slaughter filed a petition in May 2015 in Knox County Juvenile Court seeking to establish custody of the boy by the mother and listing the pair in Knoxville. The State Department then served notice on the court on behalf of the father’s claims. The U.S. Marshals Service was brought in to track the mother down and serve her with all court records filed in the case thus far.

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Report Calls for Agencies to Increase Child Protection Services

A report issued by the Second Look Commission illuminated what it calls “missed opportunities” for Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services to protect victims of repeat child abuse. Among its suggestions, the report called for better enforcement of court orders that result in “kinship placements,” in which children are removed from dangerous homes and allowed to stay with relatives. Read more from Nashville Public Radio.

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Board of Judicial Conduct Reprimands Atherton

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has publicly reprimanded Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton regarding an order he issued on Aug. 28 in a divorce case. Atherton initially denied a heterosexual couple’s request to divorce, saying it was up to the U.S. Supreme Court to define what was not a marriage after the Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage case. The Dec. 18 letter says that in a meeting with the Disciplinary Counsel, Atherton indicated that he may have been in error entering the Order and that the error “could have been misunderstood by the public as undermining its confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary…” 

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Kentucky Governor Removes Clerks' Names from Marriage Licenses

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order today removing county clerks' names from marriage licenses, Newsweek reports. Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed after refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses for religious reasons, advocated for her name to be removed from the licenses.

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Protesters Attend Yocca's Hearing in Rutherford County

Security was increased at Circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor’s courtroom this morning after more than a dozen protesters from three states showed up for Anna Yocca’s remote arraignment hearing, The Daily News Journal reports. Yocca is charged with attempted first-degree murder after a failed attempt to end her pregnancy. No discussion hearing or plea date were set.

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Study Shows Women of Color Bear Much of Burden for Incarceration

CNNMoney looks at the "steep cost of incarceration on women of color," using data from a CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll on race in America, which takes a look at women who are shouldering the financial burden of incarceration of a loved one, particularly in black communities. Fifty-five percent of black Americans said they either had been incarcerated themselves or had a close friend or family member who had been incarcerated compared to 36 percent of whites and 39 percent of Hispanics. "It's all on us, the mothers, the wives, the sisters, the girlfriends," said Gale Muhammad, the founder and president of the prison advocacy group Women Who Never Give Up.

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Harbison, Rubenfeld Named 2015 Nashvillians of the Year

TBA President Bill Harbison and Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld have been named the 2015 Nashvillians of the Year by the Nashville Scene for their work in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case. The article details the unlikely team of Harbison, “the diplomat,” and Rubenfeld, “the warrior,” and the attorneys’ work preparing the historic case, which would determine that it is unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages. “Rubenfeld and Harbison were just two of many players in one of the biggest civil rights cases of our time," author Kim Green writes. Harbison “speaks quietly and deliberately, with a studied diplomacy — he's quick to agree, or at least to see your point. Unruffled, dignified and warmly polite, he behaves as if he has time for you, even if he doesn't.” Rubenfeld, who is chair of the TBA's LGBT Section, reflects on why she chose the law: "Our constitution is a really beautiful and well-constructed document," she says. "But there's so much work to do to enforce it, and to make sure that it's applied equally to everyone.”

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Training Conference for Parents of At-Risk Males

The Conference for Single Parents Rearing At-Risk Males, a new three-day program implemented by Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway, will offer training for 250 parents of at-risk males referred to Building Families and Communities Missions. The program is planned for Dec. 11-13 in Nashville. For more information, including a program schedule, contact BFC Missions at 615-498-4669.

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Tennessee a Top State for Murder-Suicides, Report Finds

Tennessee is among the top eight states in the nation for the frequency of murder-suicides, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center. The report, featured in the Times Free Press, also found 72 percent of murder-suicides involved an intimate partner.

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Shelby County Woman Jailed for Failing to Pay Guardian ad Litem

Shelby County resident Angela Gilmore spent time behind bars after failing to pay Guardian ad Litem Shari Myers – an attorney Judge Donna Fields appointed to Gilmore’s divorce case involving children. WREG reports Gilmore claims she was unable to pay the $3,300 owed to Myers, prompting the attorney to file a petition of contempt against Gilmore.

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Attorneys Who Defeated Gay Marriage Ban Seek Payment

The Tennessean reports the 19 attorneys who defeated Tennessee’s ban on gay marriage say the state owes them more than $2.3 million for their time – 5,974 hours – on the case. The average hourly rate for the attorneys was $390 per hour. "We worked for two years on this case and we were successful," said Abby Rubenfeld, a Nashville attorney who led the case. "All the attorneys for the state of Tennessee got paid while they worked on it, so we should be paid, too."

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