Divorce: Quality Experiences with Children as a Low Income Spouse

Financial Security Without Collateral Damage to Children
Unfortunately, kids are often collateral damage in a divorce. Divorcing parents are concerned with how often they will see their children. However, they are also concerned with the financial result of divorce. Under the child support guidelines, the number of days spent with the kids directly impacts the child support award to be paid, which leads to an uncomfortable situation where both parents are fighting for more time with the kids and neither parent’s motive is clear.

When you throw in the emotional impact of divorce, and the fact that each parent may be fueled to gain an upper hand on the other in the divorce, the fight over the kids can become poisonous.

Providing Quality Experiences as a Low Income Parent
The most important step towards making sure that both parents can afford to have quality experiences with the kids after divorce is to fight for every cent of financial support. This includes both spousal support, which is sometimes called alimony, and child support.

In a situation where the Father is the high income earner, but the Mother has more time with the kids, the Father may want to be the “fun parent,” who takes his children on weekend trips and theme park vacations. The Mother may feel forced into being the “serious parent,” who handles the weekday responsibilities of housework, homework, and school events. Naturally, the lower income parent in this situation is going to feel limited in the ability to have quality experiences with the kids.

The primary check against a high income parent using a lot of money to have more quality experiences with the children than the low income parent is the court, who will award the low income parent a certain portion of the high income parent’s income to provide for the children.

The lower income parent needs to make sure that the court knows the income and earning potential of the higher income parent. If the higher income parent’s income is accurate, then the lower income parent should receive some kind of financial assistance, which will allow both parents to have quality experiences with the kids.

How to Avoid Revenge Debt During Divorce

Tina Orem with Credit Card Guide wrote an article that provides Seven Steps to Avoid Revenge Debt During Divorce. I was fortunate enough to chat with Ms. Orem and be quoted in the article.

In Murfreesboro, Divorce is often contested. When one spouse decides to end a marriage, he or she will file for divorce in Rutherford County, but what happens to the marital money during the divorce?

Often, people find themselves in a situation where a divorce action has been filed but they are technically still married. This may lead to a problem that some call revenge debt.

Revenge debt, in the divorce world, is the term used to describe a situation where one spouse takes out debt in the other spouse’s name in retaliation for filing for divorce or for other behavior. Unfortunately, since the parties are still legally married, one spouse may be able to do that.

If you are contemplating divorce, or have filed for divorce, what are some practical steps you can take to prevent what some call revenge debt?

In short, the best advice can be boiled down to two points: be proactive and be preemptive. However, Ms. Orem interviewed several lawyers in the article, from all across the country, and put together the best advice and tips. Give it a read!

Several of these principles apply in Tennessee Divorce. However, every case is different. If you are facing divorce in Murfreesboro or Rutherford County and are worried about your spouse taking out revenge debt against you, give me a call and we can discuss your options and how you can protect yourself from revenge debt.

Tennessee Marijuana Laws: Is Change in the Future?

This is a guest post from Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Deegan. Andrew is an author and frequent contributor on criminal defense topics. Read more about Andrew on his website. The views and opinions of author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of this law office.

Like so many other issues, there is still a deep divide in the nation regarding marijuana laws. I practice law in Texas. In Tennessee, just like Texas, possession of marijuana will get you arrested and charged. In other states, including Washington and Colorado, marijuana is fully legalized.

Recent Changes
The District of Columbia just legalized marijuana, allowing anyone in the small federal brainstem of our country, where our highest levels of federal government sit, to freely consume marijuana. It’s a remarkable shift in national attitudes toward this notorious plant that was not too long ago penalized harshly on both federal and state levels.

This is part of a greater trend over the last several years that started with states such as Colorado and Washington moving toward full legalization. Oregon did the same last year, and other states are likely to follow.

There are many reasons for this shift. Proponents of marijuana believe it is not only medically beneficial, but recreationally harmless. Proponents also point out the vast resources spent on jailing and prosecuting people for simple possession of marijuana and how those resources could be used elsewhere.

Obviously, some states strongly disagree. Nebraska and Oklahoma, for instance, sued the State of Colorado in federal court to prevent their legalization on the grounds that it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Marijuana Laws in Tennessee
Possession of marijuana is still aggressively prosecuted in Tennessee, across the South, and in other conservative states, including my home state of Texas. For residents of Middle Tennessee, simple possession of marijuana will still get you arrested and charged.

Tennessee has harsher possession penalties for marijuana crimes than Texas. In Tennessee, marijuana possession of more than half of an ounce is a felony, while marijuana possession of less than half an ounce is a misdemeanor. In Texas, you need to have more than four ounces to be charged with felony possession of marijuana.

Throughout the South, including Tennessee, Texas, and other states, there are still punitive marijuana laws that likely will not be swept up in the recent wave of change.

Despite this, economic incentives to legalizing marijuana are starting to move the needle, especially in bigger cities. In order to keep costs down, big counties like Dallas County, near where I practice, have considered no longer arresting people for amounts under two ounces to keep costs down.

Will Tennessee and Texas ultimately move toward legalization of marijuana? I think that it will happen eventually and that the economic incentives to legalize marijuana and tax it will eventually prevail. However, I don’t think it’s likely to happen anytime soon. What do you think?

Back To Work After Raising Kids? 5 Questions to Consider

This is a guest post from author and columnist Lisa Thomson. Lisa is a contributor to Huffington Post and Divorced Moms. To read more about Lisa and her story, visit www.LisaThomsonLive.com

This one is for the stay-at-home moms. I was one, too and I loved it while it lasted. Divorce changes everything, in a good way.

Cast your memory back, when you found out you were pregnant you were likely overwhelmed and delighted by the prospect of entering a new phase in your life; motherhood.  We want to do what’s best for our babies. Thus begins the long path of putting our children’s needs before our own.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing however as we learn years later, the decision we thought was best at one point can end up hurting us.

If you are like me and stayed home to raise your children you inadvertently have given up the prospects of furthering your career during those years. The rewards and benefits of staying home are invaluable to our children but there is a price to pay in the event of divorce.

We stay-at-home moms (“SAHMs”) are very vulnerable during divorce since we find ourselves with outdated skills and let’s be honest, at a complete career loss. What am I going to do now? we ask.  I’ve been there and I’m here to tell you it’s not as bad as it seems.  There is hope for a new beginning.

Rather than jumping in head first to the first job that will take you. Stop. Take a deep breath and ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. How can my skills before I stayed home to raise the children, benefit me today?
  2. What are my interests, hobbies, passions?
  3. What do I have to do to update past skills?
  4. What are the cost v. benefit and time commitment to start a new education program or career?
  5. What type of work/career will be sustainable into older age?

Divorced MomsCareful analysis of these questions can lead you to some valuable answers.  The bottom line is you want to do something you are at least interested in, hopefully passionate about.

Also, if you are upgrading past skills you need to consider what it will cost and whether or not you’ll be able to continue that line of work into older age.  In other words, what are the physical demands of your previous work?

Perhaps it would be better to start over with a new career enabling longer term employment. For example, I was in the career of Phys. Ed and Recreation.  My previous work experiences were highly physically demanding and I knew there was no way I could sustain that type of work into my 50′s or 60’s. Also, after being out of the field for several years my interests and passions had changed.  So I asked myself should I invest in upgrading in a career I had little interest in?  No.  I decided to pursue a new program in Interior Design.  This made sense for flexibility of hours and sustainability of work.  I could do this type of work well into my 60′s if I wanted or had to.  Also, the program available allowed for part time study so I would still have time to care for my children.  This seemed ideal looking at the ‘big picture’.

Often during divorce your ex’s lawyer will pressure you to get a job because if you are earning an income of any kind, your ex will pay less in spousal/alimony support.  So the lawyer is trying to get your ex the best deal by encouraging you to get a job.

Yes, you will have to work, but know that the purpose of alimony and spousal support is to transition you from the marital role to independence and this includes allowing you time to upgrade and take up a new education.  So there is no need to rush out and get a minimum wage job and have no time for your children who likely still need you?

Look at this as a time of growth and new opportunities.  It isn’t the easiest transition but you will come out of it with new skills and increased self esteem. Your kids will be proud of your accomplishments too. So it’s a little scary, but taking the proper time to figure out what you want to pursue, you will be happier in the long run.

Were you a stay at home mom?  How and what did you choose for work, post divorce?

Divorced MomsLisa Thomson is the author of The Great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage, an informative self help guide full of practical tips and personal stories. Co-Parenting, Budgeting, hiring a lawyer, parental alienation, social changes to expect are all topics Lisa tackles in this all encompassing and riveting read. When not writing, Lisa loves to dabble in lots of mischief. She currently lives happily unmarried. Visit her blog to read more and you can also connect with Lisa on Facebook and Twitter

Purchase the e-book on Amazon, iTunes, or Barnes & Noble or purchase the paperback directly from her website

Greenhouse Ministries Legal Clinic: Legal Questions Answered

In Rutherford County, Greenhouse Ministries offers a free legal clinic each Thursday night from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Many lawyers from the Rutherford County show up unpaid and give assistance to members of the community.

At Legal Clinic, you can ask a lawyer free questions from all kinds of topics. It does not mean that you are going to come away with a free lawyer. It means that you will be able to ask a lawyer free and the lawyer will be able to address your questions, help you sort out your real legal issue, and give you some direction.

We compare our time at legal clinic to working triage at the hospital. It is not a place where we have hours to sit and spend on each case. Instead, it is a place where you can have legal questions answered and, if needed, the volunteer lawyer can put you in touch with someone who can provide further help.

We volunteer at Legal Clinic because we believe in contributing to our community and helping get legal questions answered. We can say that, out of fifteen years of participating in this program, the people that show up are truly in need.

If you find yourself saying “I need a lawyer,” but aren’t sure about the issues in your case, we believe that you should be able to talk with a lawyer and ask questions without being obligated to pay money. Hiring a lawyer has the potential to be life altering. Ask yourself: don’t you want someone with experience in these kinds of situations?