Nashville Family Lawyer: Settling Child Custody in a Military Divorce

nashville family lawyer

With military divorce there are many uncertainties. A Nashville Family Lawyer can help you develop contingency plans so that you can be sure all your grounds are covered.

Being in the military and having a spouse in the military is tough enough as it is. Add children to the equation and you’re dealing with an even bigger hardship. Not only is it extremely difficult emotionally for the parent who is deployed to be away from their children for months, even years on end, it’s equally as straining on the heart strings for the parent who is single-handedly caring for the household and comforting the children in their absence. Because of the nature of military service demands, military marriages often times don’t get the attention they need. Communication can prove to be a trying challenge and many relationships suffer great consequences as a result. When marital issues occur, it’s important for servicemembers and their families to seek the counsel of a Nashville family lawyer.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for servicemembers to face divorce. In fact more than 30,000 military marriages ended last year, the most the Pentagon had seen in a decade. Divorce is never easy and always has the potential to be a complex, unsettling, and often painful experience but military divorces involving children can be a battle of their own. In military divorces, determining how parenting responsibilities will be divided and shared is further complicated by the uncertainty regarding future deployments and/or tentative stateside assignments. Seeing as military parents have two active duties–to serve as a parent to their children and to serve their country–the case can easily be made that they don’t have the time to fulfill both roles sufficiently. Of course this puts them at a huge disadvantage as far as their custody rights are concerned. To protect their rights to parenting time with their children, they should consult with a Nashville family lawyer.

You see child custody cases are never uniform, especially for those in uniform. Each and every case is subject to the specific family dynamic at hand. When awarding custody in a military divorce, courts take many factors into consideration, including each parent’s willingness and ability to care for the children’s physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. In most cases, one spouse is granted the responsibility of the residential parent while the other assumes the role of the nonresidential parent. This can often be a hard call to make as the civilian parent is not necessarily a shoe in. Sure they do not have to answer to the demands of the military, but keeping the best interests of the children in mind, one can also argue that they don’t have the attractive, free of cost, military benefits such as excellent child care, better school systems and a safe, supportive environment on base, to offer. With that being said, military service members are often called upon to move during their career. When it comes down to it, military custody decisions are about accommodating the children and the service member’s military obligations–no cut and dry task. Luckily, a Nashville family lawyer can help you strike a fine balance between the two.

Regardless of which parent is granted custody, it’s important that both parties cooperate with one another to ensure that the visitation rights are respected and that the children are always in good hands. As a service member you can never be sure when and where you’ll be called to duty and for how long so it’s particularly important that military families have a thorough parenting plan in place. That way there is no room for confusion or argument in the event that the military parent is faced with deployment or an assignment that does not allow the children to accompany them or conflicts with their visitation rights as the nonresidential parent. For example, in the case that the military parent is the residential parent and gets put on an assignment that does not allow the children to tag along, someone (as indicated in the parenting plan) would be appointed the residential parent for that time period. Of course circumstances can change and the specifics of the parenting plan can be modified accordingly. Because there are so many factors and legalities to consider in a military divorce, before moving forward with a custody decision, it’s to your benefit to employ the expert guidance of a Nashville family lawyer. Take the first step toward resolving your legal issues by scheduling an appointment with the experienced attorneys at Cheatham, Palermo and Garrett today (615) 790-0982!


The attorneys of Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, are experienced in the interpretation and application of Tennessee family laws and have been committed to protecting the financial and parental rights of men and women in Franklin and throughout Middle Tennessee for more than 30 years. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to each case they handle, providing their clients with skilled representation in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Prenuptial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, Music/Intellectual Property, and Juvenile Court.

Divorce Attorney Nashville: Handling Debt During Divorce

Divorce-Attorney-Nashville-Handling-Debt-During-Divorce

Let’s face it, with the economy (specifically the job market) still struggling to stabilize and the prices of household utilities, gas, food and school tuition continuing to increase, the cost of living can be quite challenging for families to keep up with. In order to maintain the lifestyle they set out for themselves they have to swipe those charge cards and take out loans–sometimes on the house, car and most often on education for their children. Before they know it they’ve racked up a pretty significant debt. Debt is a burden for anyone to carry, married or single, but for the divorced, debt comes with a whole different level of complications. When a couple splits they no longer carry the financial burden as a team unless of course in the case that alimony is due. So what happens when they’ve incurred debt? Who is responsible for paying it off? As your trusted divorce attorneys Nashville we’re here to explain the implications of debt on divorce and to help you get it all sorted out.

Sorting out debt during a Tennessee divorce can be especially complicated as Tennessee statutes do not define any difference between marital and separate debt, nor do they provide advice as to how to separate the debts a married couple may have incurred during the marriage. However, luckily the 2003 case of Alford v. Alford cleared this up a bit. According to the Tennessee Supreme Court, marital debt is classified as “all debts incurred by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing.” Just as marital property is divided between both parties in a divorce, any debt that’s incurred by one or both parties at any point during the marriage is considered to be the responsibility of both parties. It doesn’t matter who ran up this or that amount. When it comes to divorce the financial responsibility falls on both parties. This even applies to couples who have been living apart for years. In the Alford case the court dismissed the fact that the couple had been physically (not legally) separated for 10 years prior to the divorce, proclaiming that “[t]hey cannot be both married and divorced. Courts should not concern themselves with the type of living arrangements chosen by adult parties to the union.”

You see, it’s not “who owes?”, it’s “who owes what?” that can be tricky when dealing with debt during a divorce. After all, the last thing you want is to have creditors coming after you because your former spouse wasn’t able to pay his or her share of the debt owed. That’s why a qualified divorce attorney Nashville can be helpful in making sure that the financial burden is divided fairly between the parties.

In most marriages, responsibilities are usually divvied up, leaving one person in charge of the finances–a great system if both couples treat each other with integrity and are always open and honest about their spending. However, if the person controlling the finances is not so trustworthy they can get away with all sorts of things financially without the other party suspecting a thing. This happens all too often, where one spouse digs the marriage into a financial rut. That’s why any good divorce attorney Nashville will stress the importance of obtaining a copy of your credit report in order to save you from going into the divorce settlement with a blind eye. Remember, knowledge is power and can help you to negotiate the case in your favor.

While fiscal problems are problem enough for married couples, for divorcing couples they can be twice the stress. Both couples have to collectively take a blow to the pocketbook, only separately instead of together. This can be extremely hard to bear if one spouse has always relied on the other as the main household provider. As a means of trying to prevent anyone’s financial standing from becoming severely compromised, every divorce attorney Nashville is instructed by the Supreme Court to consider the following four factors when dividing debts among divorcing couples:

  • The debt’s purpose;

  • Which party incurred the debt;

  • Which party benefitted from incurring the debt; and

  • Which party is best able to repay the debt

Once responsibility for the debt has been allocated, each individual can then decide how they want to take care of paying it off. To ensure that the debt is paid off on time and in full it’s a good idea to consult with a divorce attorney Nashville about incorporating payment parameters into the final divorce decree. The attorneys at Cheatham, Palermo and Garrett have a thorough understanding of the laws involved in the division of marital debts and are here to support you through the process and guide you to a fair outcome. Take the first step toward resolving your legal issues by scheduling an appointment with us today (615) 790-0982!


The attorneys of Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, are experienced in the interpretation and application of Tennessee family laws and have been committed to protecting the financial and parental rights of men and women in Franklin and throughout Middle Tennessee for more than 30 years. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to each case they handle, providing their clients with skilled representation in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Prenuptial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, Music/Intellectual Property, and Juvenile Court.

Tennessee Divorce Lawyer: Dealing With Taxes After Divorce

Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Nashville Taxes

Tax season isn’t fun for anyone, especially for newly divorced couples filing as single for the first time in a long while. However with the help of a Tennessee divorce lawyer, the tax implications of divorce don’t have to be so taxing.

Tax season is upon us and with March already halfway over the official IRS Tax filing deadline is quickly closing in. The months, weeks, days, hours and minutes leading up to the dreaded April 15th filing date are a stressful time indeed as people feverishly crunch numbers and scramble to get their paperwork together in time for the midnight deadline. What is a complex process for many is even more exacerbated by divorce.

Divorce can have a huge impact on your taxes as it changes the way you file your taxes as well as which exemptions and deductions you can claim. With that being said it’s extremely important that you understand what’s at stake so that you can prevent major complications from arising later in the game. Don’t make things harder for yourself than they have to be! An experienced Tennessee divorce lawyer can help simplify and clarify your post-divorce tax standing so you can stay sane, your bank account can rest soundly and the IRS can stay happy.

To file individually or jointly? That is the question.
The IRS wants to know your legal marital status as of the end of the year you’re filing for–in this case, if you were single or married as of December 31, 2012. In the case of divorce this can be a tricky one to answer. Even in the case that your divorce paperwork was filed before December 31st, if the divorce was not finalized by the year’s end then you’re still considered married for the year and will therefore file jointly. Of course there’s an exception to the rule. Separated parents who have paid more than half their housing costs for the year, lived apart from their spouse during the last six months of the tax year and whose dependent child lived with them for more than half of the year, have the ability to claim the favorable head of household status, entitling them to greater deductions. With that being said there are many financial advantages that come with declaring your taxes jointly such as the exclusion limits for capital gain on the sale of a principal residence.

As you can see picking the right filing status is key so if you have any uncertainty whatsoever don’t file hastily. It’s not a race to meet the April 15th deadline. In fact if you’re feeling the pressure, file for an extension and take the time you need to get your questions answered by a knowledgeable Tennessee divorce lawyer. After all, taking the extra time to make sure your taxes are filed the right way the first time will save you a lot of money when compared to the alternative.

And then there’s the children…
Not only does filing status become an issue for recently divorced or separated couples, but there’s the children to think about as well. The big question of who gets to claim exemptions for children can make a huge difference in your tax bill. Usually the custodial parent, the parent who cares for the children more than half the year, is the one who obtains the right to claim the children as dependents. However some divorced parents decide to exercise equal custody over their children. When this is the case, the right to claim the dependency exemption typically defaults to either the parent who pays child support or, in the case that no one does, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. However, when it comes to child support, the IRS does not qualify the money being paid or received as a deductible. Though what they will take into account is qualifying childcare expenses and certain healthcare expenses for minors, and college tuition and school expenses for adults. That’s why it’s so important to be cognizant of the way you describe certain payments in your divorce agreement as each description can mean the difference of a nice lump sum of savings.

Overall, to ensure that recently divorced or divorcing couples get the most out of their tax returns, it is highly recommended that they seek out a Tennessee divorce attorney to help them sort through any questions and issues that may arise.


The attorneys of Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, are experienced in the interpretation and application of Tennessee family laws and have been committed to protecting the financial and parental rights of men and women in Franklin and throughout Middle Tennessee for more than 30 years. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to each case they handle, providing their clients with skilled representation in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Prenuptial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, Music/Intellectual Property, and Juvenile Court.

Divorce Attorney Nashville: Why Statutory Injunction Matters

divorce attorney nashville statutory injunction

Going through a divorce? Don’t let your spouse get the best of you! With the help of a top divorce attorney Nashville you not only gain a better understanding of statutory injunction but you get the support you need to ensure that you abide by the provisions.

Does the statutory injunction really matter?
Jolley v. Jolley, M2011-02550-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 2013) The best advice any divorce attorney Nashville can generally give is “follow the law”. This can be especially true in divorce cases because the mere filing of a divorce triggers a series of statutory injunctions, sometimes referred to as statutory restraining orders. In this post, I’ll discuss why Mr. Jolley finds out the hard way that those injunctions really do matter.

Statutory Injunctions are in every divorce case.
The Tennessee Legislature requires certain items in every divorce complaint, including an automatic injunction. The specific provisions are in T.C.A. s 36-6-104(d), and are intended to protect the martial property, protect financial interests, preserve evidence, and provide for personal safety of the parties and children.

The Problem in Jolley:
In Jolley v. Jolley, the problem was that Mr. Jolley owned some property jointly with his Wife and a third party. After his Wife filed for divorce, he quitclaimed his interest to his brother and sister without his Wife’s knowledge. The Jolley’s later reached an agreement in the divorce, a Marital Dissolution Agreement, which awarded wife specific property (but not the property at issue) and awarded Husband the “balance of assets”. Later, when the “new” owners of the property filed a partition action—an action to sell the jointly held property and divide the proceeds—Husband claimed an interest in the property. He claimed he had an interest since he was awarded the “balance of the assets.”

Soap won’t clean these Unclean Hands.
The Husband lost in the trial court and the court of appeals because of a doctrine called “unclean hands.” We all know this doctrine from grade school: cheaters don’t win. The court found that Mr. Jolley transferred his interest in violation of the statutory restraining orders. Therefore, he had performed an act of contempt and the court refused for him to receive money from the sale based upon his claim that he was awarded the “balance of assets”. Because he gave away his interest in violation of the restraining order, the Court ruled that the property was Wife’s separate property and she was awarded the funds from the partition sale.

Follow the law!
Statutory injunctions do have teeth. Violations of the injunctions can lead to contempt actions, forfeiture of property, or other negative consequences in the division of assets. Also, these violations usually occur at the beginning of the case. The timing of the violation can then set a client up behind the eight-ball for the remainder of the divorce case. And as always, complications in a case such as violating the injunctions certainly drive
attorney’s fees up. Thus our best advice: Follow the law!

At Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, we make a point of discussing the injunctions and providing an in-house ten commandments to help you follow the law and protect your interests and build your case strategy. As your top divorce attorney Nashville, we are also prepared to tackle that spouse who never follows the rules.


The attorneys of Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, are experienced in the interpretation and application of Tennessee family laws and have been committed to protecting the financial and parental rights of men and women in Franklin and throughout Middle Tennessee for more than 30 years. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to each case they handle, providing their clients with skilled representation in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Prenuptial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, Music/Intellectual Property, and Juvenile Court.

Nashville Divorce Lawyer: Know Your Alimony

Nashville Divorce Lawyer Alimony

There’s no one type of alimony, so how do you know which is right for you? Have a Nashville Divorce Lawyer assess your case and decide what type of alimony is best suited to protect your livelihood and future!

What type of alimony did I say?
Averitte v. Averitte, M2012-00738-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2013)
The alimony stated in your Marital Dissolution Agreement may not be the alimony you are actually paying. The Court of Appeals affirmed a long line of cases wherein the alimony classification was determined not by what the parties stated in their Marital Dissolution Agreement but by how the alimony payments were structured.

Alimony in Solido vs. Alimony in Futuro
The dispute arises between Alimony in Solido versus Alimony in Futuro. Limited review: alimony in solido is a “lump sum” payment, “often” used to equalize the distribution of the marital estate or provide a definite amount of long term support. It is non-modifiable except by agreement of the parties. Alimony in Futuro is long term support, remains in the court’s control, is modifiable by either party, and terminates on the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. The total amount of alimony in future is undefined.

The Problem in Averitte
In Averitte v. Averitte, the problem was in the language of the Marital Dissolution Agreement. The section on alimony said “Husband agrees to pay Wife periodic alimony in the amount of $1,200 for a period of 7 years, which is 84 months . . . .” After the divorce, as is often the case, Wife remarried. Husband claimed he was paying alimony in futuro and filed to terminate his alimony because Wife remarried. Wife claimed Husband was paying alimony in solido and therefore alimony could not be terminated. And the lawyers rejoiced!

The Answer, or how Husband lost his case.
The court of appeals looked at the structure of the payments to resolve the dispute about what “periodic” actually meant. The Marital Dissolution Agreement stated a definite amount of money paid in a definite amount of time. The Marital Dissolution Agreement did not state any conditions of terminating the support. Because the amount of alimony paid was determinable upon the entry of the order, and there were no conditions to terminate or modify in the agreement, the court held that—in this Agreement—the alimony had to be classified as Alimony in Solido. Thus Husband’s claim failed and Wife will receive payments from Husband despite her remarriage.

Landmine in the Marital Dissolution Agreement
When drafting Marital Dissolution Agreements, demand that your attorney classify any alimony payments received or paid. Merely calling an alimony payment “periodic” sets everyone up for another extensive legal battle. Attorney’s should also take note: they should not wiggle around with language regarding alimony because it could set their clients up for an unpleasant surprise.

As one of the best teams of Nashville divorce lawyers, Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett makes a point of paying attention to the details of the type of alimony (there are four possible classifications under Tennessee Law—do you know them all?) as a means of ensuring that the best possible type and amount is awarded to our clients.


The attorneys of Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, are experienced in the interpretation and application of Tennessee family laws and have been committed to protecting the financial and parental rights of men and women in Franklin and throughout Middle Tennessee for more than 30 years. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to each case they handle, providing their clients with skilled representation in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Prenuptial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, Music/Intellectual Property, and Juvenile Court.