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Knoxville Family Law Blog

What is domestic assault?

If you are a Tennessee resident who has been the victim of domestic violence, or if you are someone who has been charged with a domestic violence crime, you should be aware of the law in Tennessee regarding domestic violence. As FindLaw explains, in Tennessee, the crime of physical domestic violence is called domestic assault.

Assault is the intentional or reckless injury of someone or putting that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury and/or unwanted offensive physical contact. Domestic assault is defined as an assault against one of the following people:

  • Your current or former spouse
  • Any of your relatives, whether by blood or by adoption
  • Any of your relatives by marriage, whether current or former
  • The person with whom you are currently cohabitating
  • Any person you are currently dating or who is your sexual partner
  • A child, whether minor or adult, of any of the above people

Adopting in Tennessee: An overview

If you live in Tennessee and are considering adopting a child currently under the guardianship of the state, you may understandably have questions about the process involved in doing so. At the Law Office of Meghan A. Bodie, we have a comprehensive understanding of how adoption works in the state, and we have helped many prospective parents navigate the sometimes-complicated process of adopting a child.

If you are considering opening up your home to a child currently in the state’s care, know that your odds of being able to do so improve considerably if you are already a foster parent. Per the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, about 80 percent of the state’s adoptable children ultimately end up staying permanently in the homes of the parents who foster them, so you are more likely to get the first chance at adopting a child if he or she is already residing in your home.

What are the adoption criteria in Tennessee?

If you are a Tennessee resident thinking about adopting a child, you will be glad to know that the criteria are fairly simple. For instance, you can be single, married or divorced and you do not need to own your own home. You can be working full time and you may or may not already have children. The only real criteria are that you be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the State of Tennessee and able to meet the financial and emotional needs of your existing and potential family.

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services recommends asking yourself the following questions before you consider adopting a child:

  • Am I a secure person who is satisfied with my life and my family as they exist now?
  • Do I have a good support system of family and friends who can help me out if and when I need them to do so?
  • Do I have the patience to wait for my adopted child to return my love?
  • Am I flexible enough to be able to handle whatever surprises and unexpected situations might arise with my adopted child?
  • Will I feel comfortable if and when my adopted child wants to talk about his or her biological parents and/or about foster parents or others who have cared for him or her in the past?

What to include in your parenting plan

When you and your child’s other parent create a Tennessee parenting plan, one of your goals should be to include specifics about any element or area you believe might cause disagreement or trouble down the line. At the Law Office of Megan A. Bodie, we have helped many separated and divorced parents create parenting plans, and we have a firm understanding of what types of information are important to include.

While ultimately, the details of your parenting plan will vary broadly in comparison to that of your friend, sister or what have you, notes that many parenting plans do, in fact, share common elements. For example, many parenting plans dictate where a child will live, and when, and they might also include information about how the parents will transport that child between their two homes.

Tennessee divorce: fault versus no fault

Tennessee divorce: fault versus no fault

In Tennessee, as in all other states, state law determines whether one spouse must file for divorce stating specific grounds; i.e., bad behavior on the part of the other spouse, for the divorce or whether the parties can simply file for an uncontested divorce based on irreconcilable differences. As a recent article in the Lincoln Memorial University Law Review points out, originally all states required “fault” in order to obtain a divorce.

Important differences between private and public adoption

Knoxville parents who want to expand their family through adoption will have two options available. The first is private adoption, and the second is public adoption. Both have their own potential benefits, and both can be suited for different families and lifestyles.

The Spruce states that public adoption agencies get their funding from state, federal, or local governments. In these institutions, the age range of the children can vary greatly from newborns all the way up to 17 year olds. The children who arrive in this system have usually been removed from their parent's care, though it's also possible for the parents to have relinquished their rights voluntarily. In the event that the child cannot be reunited with their birth family, which is often the ultimate goal, then a new family will be looked for. The child will go through the foster care system and parents who foster the child will also have the chance to adopt them.

What matters most in child custody and property division?

When you go through a divorce, having to deal with your ex may be one of the last things that you want to do. In many cases, taking a deep breath and going through the mediation process might help you to get the case resolved a bit faster so that the divorce isn't dragging out.

There are many different things that you will need to consider when you are thinking about the mediation process. Two aspects are often the most difficult to sort out. These are the child custody matters and the property division process. Here are some important points to think about in both areas:

Examining Tennessee's alimony laws

Among the primary concerns that many of those seeking a divorce in Knoxville may have is either whether they will be entitled to receive alimony, or whether they will be required to meet such an obligation. This no doubt comes from the assumption that the awarding of alimony is automatic in divorce cases. The fact that the Huffington Post reports that as recently as 2010, 380,000 women and 12,000 men in U.S, received such support seems to solidify this thought. Yet family courts must first consider several factors when deciding whether or not to award alimony. 

The first question that some facing the potential of paying alimony may have is what entitles the state to grant such an award. That logic can found in Section 36-5-121(c)(1) of Tennessee's Annotated Code. Here, the expectation that couples raise children to be productive citizens of the state is established. The state goes on to recognize that in order to accomplish this, one spouse may have to dedicate him or herself to nurturing the marriage and family, while the other sees to providing financial support. Should the marriage end, it is assumed that the nurturing spouse should be entitled to enjoy the same standard of living he or she did while married. His or her sacrifice to stay home, however, may make him or her economically disadvantaged in the immediate aftermath of a divorce. 

What's the difference between private and public adoption?

Knoxville parents like you who are looking into adopting a child will need to know the difference between public and private adoptions. Depending on your specific needs or beliefs, one may suit you and your family better than the other.

The Spruce highlights the basic differences between public and private adoption agencies. Private adoption agencies are run either on foundation grants, or use the money that adopting families pay for services. Generally speaking, children of private adoption agencies are newborns or otherwise very young, though the age range can extend up to 17 years. These organizations can potentially be for-profit. However, plenty are non-profit as well. In this option, the birth parent gives control of your adopted child to you directly, facilitated by the agency.

State law requires maximum parenting for both parents

One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce in Tennessee is determining the appropriate amount of child custody. While both parents would likely prefer the maximum amount of control, the final say is up to the judge. State laws have made new declarations that are offering guidance to court officials when making these decisions. We at the Law Office of Meghan A. Bodie can fight for your rights and ensure that you get the amount of parenting time that you deserve.

According to the National Parents Organization, custody and divorce cases that were settled after the new bill was signed into law were required to give each parent the maximum amount of parenting time. The goal of this change was to ensure that both parents can participate in their child's life as much as possible. 


Law Office of Meghan A. Bodie
109 S. Northshore Drive
Suite 402
Knoxville, TN 37919

Phone: 865-643-8626
Fax: 865-337-7363
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