Child Support Lawyer Memphis, TN

Parents are eligible to receive child support payments from another parent as a result of divorce. Parents can also make a request for child support in a paternity action in juvenile court. Unfortunately, many parents go through the child support process without understanding how payments are calculated.

How is Child Support Calculated?

In the state of Tennessee, guidelines are in place that help to calculate how much child support must be paid. Deviations from the guidelines may occur if the Court finds that it is in the best interests of the children.

The Tennessee guidelines require that the combined monthly gross income of both parents first be determined. This means that it is necessary to add up income from all sources from both parents. The gross income is then used to determine how much basic support the child or children will receive. This basic support amount is affected by the number of children the parents have and the number of days of parenting time with each child.

Credits are also given for other supported children, medical expenses, day care, and health insurance coverage.Once the appropriate amount of basic support is determined, each parent becomes responsible for a percentage of that support amount equal to the share of the combined family income he or she earns.

Child Support Enforcement

Child support orders in Tennessee are generally enforced by garnishing the wages of the parent who is required to pay. Wage garnishment means that when a child support order is issued, money is taken directly from the paycheck of the parent who is obligated to pay.

When this method of enforcement is not sufficient to ensure that a parent pays, there are other enforcement methods used by child support services or by the court. The court, for instance, may hold the delinquent parent in contempt. The delinquent parent may be reported to the credit bureau; may have his or her driver’s or professional license taken away; may have liens placed on property or have tax returns seized; and may sometimes face criminal charges.

Modifying Support Orders

In some cases a substantial change in circumstances will occur that will result in a need for modification of child support. At such time, parents may request that the court or child support services review the order to determine if modification is appropriate.

Tennessee has outlined rules for when modification is appropriate and specifies that modification will be granted if there is a “significant variance.”  Essentially, this means that unless there should be a 15 percent difference between the current support order and the new proposed child support modified order. As such, the new amount of support must be 15% more or less than the old amount of child support.


Wiseman Bray Attorneys

If you are in need of help with child support issues, or have other family law related questions, and need counsel to discuss family law issues, call or schedule a consultation with our family lawyer Memphis, TN attorneys at Wiseman Bray PLLC today.  Call our office at (901) 372-5003 to ask for a consultation!

Alimony Awards in Divorce: Family Law Memphis, TN

Alimony family law Memphis, TN attorneys can help you understand the types of alimony. Alimony is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other after the marriage has legally ended. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support. Further, parties may seek alimony during a divorce or separate maintenance claim. However, this post will focus on alimony awarded in divorce. A party’s need, and the other party’s ability to pay, are used to determine an award of alimony.

Tennessee’s Alimony Factors

Courts consider the following factors:

  1. The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs, and financial resources of each party;
  2. The relative education and training of each party;
  3. The ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training;
  4. The necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such party’s earning capacity to a reasonable level;
  5. The duration of the marriage;
  6. The age and mental condition of each party;
  7. The physical condition of each party, including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic, debilitating disease;
  8. The extent to which it would be undesirable for a party to seek employment outside the home because such party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage;
  9. The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
  10. The marital property division;
  11. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  12. The extent to which each party has made such tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as monetary and homemaker contributions, and tangible and intangible contributions by a party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
  13. The relative fault of the parties (who is more to blame) in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and
  14. Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

Types of Alimony

Temporary alimony can be granted while the divorce is in progress, to help until the divorce is final. When the divorce becomes final, there may or may not be an order for alimony after the divorce. If alimony after the divorce is awarded, that amount could be higher or lower than the temporary amount. In addition to the monthly amount, the type of alimony is very important. There are four types of alimony in Tennessee: alimony periodic alimony, transitional alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and lump-sum alimony. The type also dictates the circumstances that the alimony obligation may terminate or be modified.

 


Wiseman Bray Attorneys

If you are considering filing for divorce, or have other family law related questions, and need counsel to discuss family law issues, call or schedule a consultation with our family lawyer Memphis, TN attorneys at Wiseman Bray PLLC today.  Call our office at (901) 372-5003 to ask for a consultation!

Mental Health Records in Custody Proceedings

During custody proceedings, including divorce, Tennessee courts have a duty to protect the best interests of children. Courts must also respect patient privacy and encourage individuals to seek treatment. When one parent alleges that another parent has mental health issues, Courts balance the interests of the children and the privacy of parents. The Tennessee Court of Appeals addressed these concerns in the case of Culbertson v. Culbertson, 455 S.W.3d 107 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2014).

The Culbertson allegations.

The mother alleged that she should be named as the primary residential parent. The mother alleged that the father had a history of mental health issues, including depression. In response to the allegations, the father denied that he was incapable of caring for the minor children. He also agreed to submit to a mental health evaluation by a licensed psychologist. Pursuant to Tennessee law, a party can agree to a Rule 35 health evaluation.

The psychologist concluded that the father did not represent a threat of harm to his minor children. He also agreed that father should be permitted to have regular parenting time with his minor children. Not satisfied, the mother requested that the father submit to a second evaluation. Additionally, she also asked for all of his mental health records from each and every mental health professional.

The mother argued that it was necessary to have all of father’s records to challenge the findings from the first evaluation. She also argued it was necessary to demonstrate father’s mental health status to the court. Father argued that Tennessee protects the confidential records of individuals pursuant to a psychologist-patient privilege. As such, mother could not access the records.

After this, father and mother submitted to a joint evaluation by a second psychologist. During this second evaluation, the father permitted the psychologist to discuss the case with prior mental health practitioners. Ultimately, the second psychologist agreed with the conclusions of the first evaluation. Specifically, father did not represent a threat of harm to his minor children. The second evaluation concluded that father should enjoy regular time with his children. After this, mother requested all of father’s personal, confidential mental health records again.

The Court’s conclusions.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeals mostly agreed with father. Specifically, the Court of Appeals concluded that it is vital to protect the psychologist-patient privilege in Tennessee. The rationale of the Court was that individuals should be open and honest with their mental health professionals. Further, the Court reasoned that if the mother gained access to father’s records, mental health treatment would be discouraged.

The Court further reasoned that there was no need for mother to gain access because two psychologists had evaluated father. They both agreed that he did not represent a threat of harm to his minor children. As such, the submission to a Rule 35 evaluation struck a balance between the best interests of the minor children and father’s privacy. As such, if you are concerned that your spouse or a parent of your children may represent a threat of harm to your child or children, contact a family lawyer Memphis, TN trusts.


Wiseman Bray Attorneys

If you are considering filing for divorce, or have other family law related questions, and need counsel to discuss family law issues, call or schedule a consultation with our family lawyer Memphis, TN attorneys at Wiseman Bray PLLC today.  Call our office at (901) 372-5003 to ask for a consultation!

Contact a Family Lawyer Memphis, TN if Life Insurance is Changed During Divorce Proceedings

Family Lawyer Memphis, TN

Tennessee Injunctions upon Filing Divorce.

Ask a family lawyer Memphis, TN about Tennessee law, which requires these injunctions. At the time a spouse files a complaint for divorce in Memphis,  TN, a set of automatic injunctions go into place.   They prevent either of the parties from taking certain actions. The parties are prevented from making changes to life insurance policies, hiding or disposing of assets, relocating with minor children, and harassing one another. These injunctions remain in place until the divorce is final or dismissed.

Unfortunately, all too often, some parties fail to abide by these rules.  A party may, in violation of the Court’s order, change life insurance beneficiaries or dispose of an asset. There are a number of remedies the other party can seek through a family lawyer Memphis, TN in order to rectify these issues.  For example, the other party may be cited for contempt of court. These issues can have large implications for assets and life insurance policies. However, a party may die before a violation is remedied.

Remedying Violations After Death.

Fortunately, the Tennessee Supreme Court took up this very issue for the first time in Coleman v. Olson. In this case, a wife filed a complaint for divorce against her husband. She then immediately served the complaint on him, and the injunctions went into effect. Unfortunately the wife became seriously ill a week after filing for divorce. While in the hospital she changed the beneficiary from her current husband to her mother. This change violated those injunctions. Soon thereafter, the wife died, and the life insurance company paid her mother all of the proceeds.

The Court could have directed that the husband be renamed as beneficiary, if the wife was not dead. However, upon a party’s death, divorce proceedings abate, and the remaining spouse becomes a widower, not a divorcee. As such, the statutory injunctions expire at the time of a party’s death.  This leaves the Court stuck since it does not have any way to enforce the injunctions or remedy the violation. Thus, presumably the husband would have been left without a remedy.

An Equitable Solution.

The Tennessee Supreme Court concluded that trial courts continue to have the equitable power to resolve such a violation. This remains true even though the divorce proceedings end at the time of the other parties’ death. The Court is empowered to consider an equitable result. The Court may use its discretion to award the life insurance proceeds among the widower and the other potential beneficiary.

In this case, the Court would therefore have the jurisdiction to decide how the proceeds should be divided between the husband and the wife’s mother. It may be equitable for all, a portion, or none of the proceeds to go to the husband. Tennessee trials courts have the discretion to fix a violation based on the circumstances. If the Court concludes that it is more equitable for the widower to receive all of the proceeds, then it may do so. Ask a family lawyer Memphis, TN trusts regarding an equitable remedy for these situations.


Wiseman Bray Attorneys

If you are considering filing for divorce, or have other family law related questions, and need counsel to discuss family law issues, call or schedule a consultation with our family lawyer Memphis, TN attorneys at Wiseman Bray PLLC today.  Call our office at (901) 372-5003 to ask for a consultation!

Article by Lang Wiseman Published on Law360.com — Insurance Bad Faith and Punitive Damages

Bad Faith

Insurance Bad Faith

Law360.com recently published an article by Lang Wiseman regarding Tennessee law on insurance bad faith and punitive damages.  The title of the article is “Are Punitive Damages Available in Tennessee Insurance Cases?

Following is an excerpt from the introduction of article:

“In recent years, state and federal court rulings in Tennessee have been inconsistent about whether punitive damages are available to a policyholder in an insurance coverage case.  This inconsistency arises out of differing interpretations of Tennessee’s “bad faith statute” in light of the Tennessee General Assembly’s passage of Tennessee Code Annotated § 56–8–113.”

For more information, please use the search tool on our website to locate and review additional articles and posts on business and insurance related matters, including FAQs.

_____________________________

Wiseman

Lang Wiseman

Lang Wiseman is the founding member of Wiseman Bray PLLC, and is a commercial litigator that Memphis, Tennessee knows and trusts when it comes to business and insurance matters. Lang is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School after graduating as the top graduate in the College of Business at the University of Tennessee where he was a scholarship basketball player for the Vols.  Lang concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and is an AV-rated lawyer annually recognized by his peers as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Tennessee.  Among other civic endeavors, he serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee, the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments, and the Vice-Chair of the Advisory Commission to the Tennessee Supreme Court on Rules and Practice of Procedure.

Get Specific! You Must Mention “FEES” in Your Attorney Fee Provisions

business lawyer Memphis, TN

Tennessee Requirements for Attorney Fee Provisions

As the business lawyer Memphis TN  trusts when it comes to contract negotiation and drafting, one piece of simple legal advice we frequently give our small business clients is to always include attorney fee provisions in your contracts and routine business forms. Why? Because if you don’t have such a provision and you end up in litigation, you’re on the hook for your own attorney fees and legal expenses even if the breach of contract, or the resulting litigation, isn’t your fault.

It has always been the case that a contractual provision allowing for the recovery of attorney fees must be specific. However, just last month, in Nyrstar Tennessee Mines-Strawberry Plains, LLC v. Claiborne Hauling, LLC, the Tennessee Court of Appeals went further to reinforce this principle by making clear that attorney fee provisions must specifically invoke the magic words “attorney fees.”   The Court held that it is not enough simply to provide recovery of “costs,” “expenses” or even “legal expenses” – all of which the Court held was simply not specific enough to permit recovery of attorney’s fees.

 In Nyrstar, the plaintiff won at trial on its breach of contract action against the defendant and the judge awarded the plaintiff $116,073.43 in damages. After winning the case, the plaintiff then sought attorney’s fees of $106,779.50 and expenses of $2,982.12 pursuant to the attorney fee provision in the applicable contract. The specific language of the contract in Nyrstar was as follows:

The Customer must pay Nyrstar all costs and expenses incurred by Nyrstar in connection with enforcing its rights against the Customer under an Agreement including legal expenses and other costs incurred in recovering monies owed by the Customer to Nyrstar.

The trial court awarded the plaintiff its expenses, but refused to award the plaintiff its attorney’s fees, despite the contract language providing for the recovery of “legal expenses.” The trial court stated:

[t]he plaintiff Nyrstar’s language does not use the term “fees.” It uses “expenses,” which has been found to be inadequate. Merely providing for the “recovery of ‘costs and expenses’” is insufficient to reach a contractual right to recover attorney’s fees.

(Emphasis added). The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld this decision. The Nyrstar case means that you should pull out your contracts and regular business forms, and then call us today to make sure that the language you are using in your attorney fee provisions is correct. After all, what is the point of having an attorney fee provision in your contracts and forms if it’s not going to hold up in court?

Bottom Line

Your attorney fee provision MUST specifically provide for the recovery of “attorney’s fees,” and not merely “costs” or “expenses.”

Even if a provision provides for the recovery of “legal expenses” or “costs and expenses of any suit or proceeding,” the right to recover attorney’s fees is not created because the provision does not specifically implicate “fees” as part of the recovery.

If you’d like the small business lawyer Memphis TN  trusts to review your small business contracts and routine business forms to make sure your language complies with the requirements in Tennessee for attorney fee provisions, call us today at (901) 372-5003.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips from Wiseman Bray

personal injury lawyer memphis tn

Halloween is such a fun time of year, especially for children.   Sadly, it is also a very dangerous night for kids.  On average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year.  Only 18% of parents use reflective tape on their children’s Halloween costumes, and 12% of children ages 5 or younger are permitted to trick-or-treat alone!  In addition to talking with your kids about Halloween safety, here are some things you can do for a safer night:

 

  • Kids under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
  • Use reflective tape on costumes.
  • Walk on sidewalks and paths, and not in the street.
  • If there are no sidewalks, you should walk facing traffic as far to the side as possible.
  • Cross streets at corners only, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Watch for cars that are turning around or backing up.

DRIVERS: If you are driving on Halloween night, be especially vigilant!  Slow down, even more than usual, in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and often move in unpredictable ways.

HOMEOWNERS. If you are a homeowner, here are some ways you can help keep trick-or-treaters safe:

  • Keep Property Well-Lit– Kids will be cutting through all parts of your yard to find your front door, so make sure that your property is well-lit and that it is obvious which door trick-or-treaters should go to.
  • Keep Property Unobstructed– Clean up yard debris, fill gopher holes, wind up hoses, and pick up toys or other equipment left in the yard.
  • Restrain Pets– Be sure to keep your pets away from the front door and porch, where they might get excited and jump on or bite trick-or-treaters. It is best to keep your pet in another room or in the garage during trick-or-treating time.

The attorneys and staff of Wiseman Bray PLLC wish you a very Happy and Safe Halloween!

erin shea injury lawyer memphis tn

Erin Shea, Attorney

Tow Truck Driver Shot at Eden at Watersedge Apartments and Townhomes in Memphis, TN

apartment crime lawyer memphis tnCrime at Memphis apartment complexes continues.

Just this morning, a tow truck driver was shot in the head through the window of his truck at the Eden at Watersedge Apartments and Townhomes near Fox Meadows on South Mendenhall Road. According to the news we’re reading, witnesses heard four gunshots ring out before calling 911. When police arrived, they found the driver inside of the tow truck unconscious. Officers had to break out a window of the truck to get inside. According to WMC Action News 5 in Memphis, the victim was identified as 28-year-old Darrell Adams and he was checking for parking violations at the apartment complex when he was shot.

Does the Victim (Tow Truck Driver, Darrell Adams) have a claim against the apartment complex where he got shot?

Maybe. There are many factors to consider. In Tennessee, apartment complex owners and managers must take reasonable measures to protect tenants and guests from foreseeable criminal attacks. Whether Mr. Adams would be able to recover against the Edens at Watersedge depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the facts of how the incident occurred, security measures provided at the apartment complex, and crime levels for the apartment complex and surrounding neighborhood.

Are you the victim of an apartment crime or apartment shooting? If so, call the apartment crime lawyer Memphis,TN knows and respects.

If you are the victim of a serious injury due to apartment crime, please call Wiseman Bray PLLC today at 901-372-5003. We’ve helped other crime victims like you, and we can help YOU recover your damages if apartment management failed to take reasonable measures to protect against foreseeable criminal attacks. Wiseman Bray PLLC is an apartment crime lawyer Memphis, TN  knows and trusts. We will meet or speak with you and discuss whether you might have a case at no charge.  Call us today.

Lang Wiseman Named Vice-Chair of TSC Rules Commission

business litigation attorney memphis tnWiseman Bray PLLC is proud to announce that the Tennessee Supreme Court recently named Lang Wiseman to the prestigious position of Vice-Chair of the Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure.

The Advisory Commission meets periodically to study, and to advise and make recommendations to the Supreme Court, regarding the various rules of practice and procedure in the trial and appellate courts. Commission members are appointed by the Supreme Court pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §16-3-601.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims From Personal Injury Lawyer Memphis, TN Counts On!

memphis personal injury lawyerTips for Personal Injury Victims From Wiseman Bray

It seems that everyone is on Facebook or some other type of social media these days. Many people are even addicted to it. If you have a Memphis, TN car wreck or personal injury claim, you should carefully consider the impact your social media posts could have on your case and the ultimate settlement or verdict you receive.  As an experienced personal injury lawyer Memphis TN knows and trusts, I can tell you that insurance companies and defense attorneys, as part of their evaluation of you and your case, perform social media account investigation. They will pull up your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts to see if they can gather useful information about you, your activities, and the extent of your injuries.  We at Wiseman Bray PLLC put together the following social media tips for personal injury victims.

Personal Injury Social Media Tips

  1. Archive the content of current accounts. Destruction of potential evidence may create bigger problems than the information itself, so it is important that you do not delete any current content on your social media accounts.  Most social media sites include directions for archiving.

 

  1. Ideally, stop active use of social media. Consider stopping active use of social media altogether. Use it purely for passively looking at content posted by others, and do not post content of your own.

 

  1. At a minimum, be cautious. If you must post information about yourself, think about how posts might be perceived, especially when taken out of context. For example, posting photos of you on a camping trip may leave the false impression that you participate in vigorous physical activity without difficulty or pain.  Social media almost never provides a complete and accurate depiction of life since most people tend to post only the most positive or glamorous aspects of their lives.  You must assume that anything you post – including status updates, messages, and wall postings – will at some point be seen by the other lawyers, judges, and juries. NEVER post information that may relate to your injury claim, even indirectly.

 

  1. Disclose potential problems to a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN counts on. You may have already made potentially problematic posts before reading this. Remember, though, that you should not destroy or delete any information from your social media accounts.  However, do let your personal injury lawyer know so that he or she can avoid any surprises down the road.

 

  1. Turn on the highest privacy settings. Set your privacy settings to the highest level.  Make sure that only friends can see your information, rather than friends of friends, or the general public.

 

  1. Be aware of “friends.” Create “friend lists” so that only certain friends can see your photo albums or status updates.  Remove any “friends” you do not know well, or at all, and accept friend requests and followers only from people you know and trust.  

 

  1. Make yourself invisible to searches. As learned by a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN knows and relies on, you can remove yourself from Facebook search results by selecting “only friends” under the “search visibility” option in your profile settings.  You can also remove yourself from Google in Memphis TN by unchecking the box for “Public Search Listing” in your Internet Privacy settings. You should make comparable changes to privacy settings on all other social media accounts.

 

  1. Preserve all computers, tablets, and cell phones. If you lose or destroy an electronic communication device, the lawyer on the other side could try to portray it as deliberate destruction of evidence.  It is better to fight a battle over access to a device than to have a judge instruct a jury that it may legally assume and conclude the contents of the device would have been unfavorable to you.

 

  1. Don’t send messages or information about your case. Do not send to anyone, except for your lawyers and their staff, any email, text message, or “private” social media message about your claim, health, or activities. Those communications are not privileged and opposing counsel may be allowed to review any and all such communications.  Careless communication can destroy a case.

 

  1. Don’t join websites or web chat groups. You do not own the information you post online, and that information is highly searchable.  Do not enter any information on dating or insurance sites, post on message boards, participate in or comment on social media “private” groups or blogs, or use chat rooms.

Social Media in Other Types of Cases and Claims

These tips are useful if you are involved in any type of litigation or claim, such as apartment crime, negligent security, insurance claim, contract disputes, business litigation, car or auto accident, or premises liability.

Need a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN trusts?

Call us at Wiseman Bray PLLC  today at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.  Let us put our experience as negotiators, litigators, and trial lawyers to work for you.