Author: Shania Perris-Dannenmueller

TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES PARENTAL RELOCATION STATUTE

The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the Montgomery County Chancery Court and The Court of Appeals yesterday when it released an opinion clarifying the Parental Relocation Statute.

The opinion stated the parent spending the majority of the time with the minor child should be given permission to move, so long as , the parent wishing to relocate has a legitimate reason and absent the high standard burden of proof of the opposing parent.

The parent who opposes the move must prove one of three grounds for denying permission: (1) that the proposed move would pose a threat of serious harm to the child; (2) that the relocating parent’s motive is vindictive; or (3) that the move does not have a reasonable purpose.

To read the summary of the full Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=726c22e195595bb5150eb4c3b&id=72195e1677&e=34e6a4c97d

Contempt of Court

What is Contempt?

Any willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court order or any misconduct in the presence of a court; action that interferes with a judge’s ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the court; punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. There are both civil and criminal contempts; the distinction is often unclear.

A judge who feels someone is improperly challenging or ignoring the court’s authority has the power to declare the defiant person (called the contemnor) in contempt of court. There are two types of contempt, criminal and civil. Criminal contempt occurs when the contemnor actually interferes with the ability of the court to function properly – for example, by yelling at the judge. This is also called direct contempt because it occurs directly in front of the judge. A criminal contemnor may be fined, jailed or both as punishment for his act.

Civil contempt occurs when the contemnor willfully disobeys a court order. This is also called indirect contempt because it occurs outside the judge’s immediate realm and evidence must be presented to the judge to prove the contempt. A civil contemnor, too, may be fined, jailed or both. The fine or jailing is meant to coerce the contemnor into obeying the court, not to punish him, and the contemnor will be released from jail just as soon as he complies with the court order. In family law, civil contempt is one way a court enforces alimony, child support, custody and visitation orders which have been violated.

If someone has violated a Court Order such as failing to pay child support or refusing parenting time under a Parenting Plan, then a Petition for Contempt is filed with the Court and served upon the party violating the Order.

Things You Cannot Do In A Divorce…

Article originally posted on The Huffington Post

Written by:  Christina Pesoli Family Law Attorney (Coldwell Bowes, L.L.P.); Author (Break Free From the Divortex: Power Through Your Divorce and Launch Your New Life)

Getting a divorce requires a lot of adulting. (And yes, “adulting” is now a verb.) The timing on that couldn’t be worse, because when you’re getting a divorce, adulting is extremely challenging.

To make it easier, I’ve developed some divorce attorney-approved guidelines for adulting during your divorce:

Don’t try to play the “young and dumb” card. Let me hit you with some hard truth here: You can’t play the “young and dumb” card if you’re neither young nor dumb. If you’re at the point in life where you’re getting a divorce, you should be old and wise enough to know what constitutes dumb behavior, and you should have developed the impulse control to resist it.

For example, racking up big credit card bills and fees for no-nos like shopping sprees and late payments might be a dumb mistake that a college kid with her first credit card could be forgiven for, but the same latitude does not extend to you. You’re going to need room on those credit cards for divorce-related expenses like security deposits, moving expenses and legal fees.

Plus, your credit card statements are going to be scrutinized by your ex and his lawyer. It’s hard to claim that you’re a mature mom with good judgment when you’ve maxed out your credit cards with spending benders at Boston Proper, Forever 21, and Dick’s Last Resort. Bottom line: No retail therapy for you. Go get some real therapy and leave your credit cards alone.

Don’t engage in public displays of…well…anything. Drunkenness. Nudity. Profanity. Anger. Crying. On second thought, I take back crying. An occasional bout of public crying might be unavoidable (and therefore understandable) when you’re going through a divorce. And I’m not just saying that because I myself was guilty of crying in public on at least one occasion that I can remember during my divorce. (Sorry for that super awkward lunch at Hyde Park Bar and Grill 8 ½ years ago, Connie.)

All of those other behaviors are examples of conduct you might expect of kids — depending on their age, of course. Public displays of nudity, anger and crying are staples of any self-respecting toddler’s daily repertoire. And drunkenness and profanity are on full display in any college town every Thursday through Sunday night.

But none of those is acceptable from a person who is adulting properly — whether you’re going through a divorce or not. So, if you get a charged with public intoxication and/or public urination at the lake this summer, don’t try to explain it away to your lawyer by saying that your kids were with their dad and you were having a little “me time.” Getting a massage or playing golf is an acceptable “me time” activity. Being drunk and disorderly is not.

Make new mistakes. When your lawyer takes your case, she’s agreeing to take you where she finds you — previously committed immature mistakes and all. Whether you’re the one who had the affair, or you’re the one who keyed his car when you found it parked at the No-tell Motel, whatever transgressions you confessed during your initial consultation come with the territory.

But you don’t get unlimited forgiveness. If you later key your ex’s new girlfriend’s car after spotting it in his driveway over the weekend, don’t expect the same level of acceptance from your lawyer. Unless you’re a tweenager, you should know that insincere apologies are more of an insult than anything else. An apology doesn’t count if everyone knows you’re just going to do the same thing again, anyway.

Your lawyer doesn’t appreciate it when you disregard her advice, make your case more difficult and jeopardize the potential for a good outcome. She can’t be the only grownup working to get you out of this mess — she needs you on the job, too.

If you make a mistake, there are three simple steps to follow. 1. Own up to it — to your lawyer, I mean; not in some rambling text to your ex at 2:00 a.m. Definitely do not do that. 2. Learn from it. 3. Move forward. There’s no better evidence that you’re not learning from your mistakes than repeating them. And not learning from your mistakes means you clearly are not adulting well. Or at all, really.

Remember, going through a divorce isn’t some sort of hall pass for stupid mistakes; it’s a mandate to avoid making them. So put on your big girl or boy pants, throw it into adult gear, and keep it there.

How the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has affected other areas of law

The word patchwork may be the best way to describe the layers of laws that governed the relationships of same-sex couples before June 26, 2015, the day the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to marriage for gay couples in Obergefell v. Hodges (PDF).

Robert Stanley, a partner at the family law firm of Jaffe and Clemens in Beverly Hills, California, has personally navigated that patchwork. When he moved to California about 10 years ago from Georgia, he went from a state with no legal status for same-sex couples to one with domestic partnership status. Shortly after the California Supreme Court’s ruling that recognized same-sex marriage went into effect—in mid-June 2008—Stanley and his partner got married.

Then the state’s voters approved Proposition 8, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. That left Stanley’s marriage legal but prevented additional same-sex couples from marrying. Challenges to Prop 8 sprouted, and same-sex marriages again became permissible under state law in 2013.

California was hardly the only state flopping around like a beached fish when it came to the legal status of same-sex couples. Obergefell brought a conclusive end to that thrashing, and in the first four months after the decision, 96,000 same-sex couples married, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. Those unions added an estimated $813 million to state and local economies and $52 million in state and local sales tax revenue.

However, Obergefell didn’t foreclose debate on the multitude of legal issues that arise from marriage.

“I felt that once there was some U.S. Supreme Court case or national recognition of marriage that didn’t have any loopholes, everything would be fixed,” Stanley recalls. “But Obergefell didn’t change the fact that existing relationships have been through a roller coaster of legal possibilities, and all those things are playing into cases at dissolution time.”

It’s not just during breakups that these issues are emerging. They’re surfacing when babies are born or adopted, when spouses pass away, and when all the other life events that affect families take place.

“Marriage isn’t for everybody, and getting married creates a whole new set of rights and also responsibilities,” says Allen Tullar, chair of the matrimonial and family law group at Gross McGinley in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “The things you have to think about are whether you need a prenuptial agreement, what marital property is, and issues like spousal support and alimony. That’s all uncharted territory.”

In the year since Obergefell, courts have begun resolving these issues, though some answers are as yet elusive. For instance, how to divide property accrued during a long-term relationship of a same-sex couple divorcing after only a year of marriage? And what happens when a party asserts rights under federal or state religious freedom laws to decline to engage in activities for or related to parties in same-sex marriages?

Excerpt from ABA Journal of Law Article written by G.M. Filisko.  Read full article at http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/after_obergefell_how_the_supreme_court_ruling_on_same_sex_marriage_has_affe

Dallas Protest Shooting

DALLAS (AP) — Gunmen shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others during a protest over fatal police shootings of black men in other states, authorities said. It appeared to be the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Thursday’s bloodshed, which unfolded just a few blocks from where President John F. Kennedy was slain in 1963, also evoked the trauma of the nation’s tumultuous civil rights era.

Police Chief David Brown blamed “snipers” and said three suspects were in custody. Mayor Mike Rawlings said a fourth was slain by police in a downtown parking garage where he had exchanged gunfire with authorities.

“We don’t exactly know the last moments of his death, but explosives did blast him out,” Rawlings told The Associated Press. Police said the man had told negotiators he intended to hurt more law enforcement officials.

Police did not identify any of the suspects. The police chief said the dead suspect had declared before his death that he was upset about recent shootings and wanted to kill whites.

The shooting began about 8:45 p.m. Thursday while hundreds of people were gathered to protest the week’s fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. Brown told reporters the snipers fired “ambush style” on the officers. Two civilians were also wounded, Rawlings said.

Read the full article by Terry Wallace of the Associated Press at http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/breakingnews/police-5-officers-dead-7-hurt-in-dallas-protest-shooting/ar-BBu5aky?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

Led Zeppelin Attorneys Ask Judge To Dismiss Case

Led Zeppelin’s lawyers asked a judge Monday to throw out a case accusing the band’s songwriters of ripping off a riff for “Stairway to Heaven.”

The estate of Randy Wolfe, founder of the band Spirit, failed to prove it owned the copyright to his 1968 song “Taurus” or that it was substantially similar to “Stairway,” attorney Peter Anderson said.

“Plaintiff rested and failed to carry his burden of proof on multiple issues,” Anderson wrote in a motion to dismiss.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner is expected hear arguments on the motion when the trial resumes Tuesday morning.

Wolfe’s estate claims that guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant incorporated a unique musical phrase from “Taurus” in the introduction to their 1971 rock epic.

Anderson said attorney Francis Malofiy had failed to show that members of Led Zeppelin were familiar with the song and experts had not presented a convincing case that the tunes were similar enough to amount to copyright infringement.

Musical experts for the Wolfe estate said there were many similarities between the obscure instrumental “Taurus” and “Stairway,” but a defense expert testified Friday that the main similarity was a common descending chord sequence used as a musical building block for 300 years.

Anderson also said the plaintiff failed to show actual damages from any infringement or present evidence of revenues from “Stairway.”

An economist testified that Led Zeppelin works that include “Stairway” earned nearly $60 million in revenues in the past five years, but that included other works, as well, and didn’t include manufacturing costs or other expenses that could be deducted.

Anderson asked Klausner to make the judgment before the case goes to the jury. The motion is fairly typical after the plaintiff rests in a case.

Messages left for Malofiy were not immediately returned.

Article by BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press.

Tennessee Court of Appeals on Attorney’s Fees in Domestic Criminal Contempt Matters

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently ruled on awarding attorney’s fees in Domestic Criminal Contempt Matters.  The Opinion stated that the award of attorney’s fees in pursuit of a Criminal Contempt Petition are not provided for in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-9-103(b) and expressly limits the punishment a court may award, therefore, it does not warrant an award of those fees.

Read the full Tennessee Court of Appeals Opinion at: https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/wattsjoyce.opn_.pdf

Doctor Assisted Suicide in California

Physician-assisted suicide is about to become legal in the nation’s largest state.

The California End of Life Option Act takes effect on Thursday. The law allows terminally ill adults in California with less than six months to live to get a doctor’s prescription for a lethal dose of “aid-in-dying” drugs.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation in October after it cleared both houses not without with some opposition from lawmakers.

The law makes California the fifth state to legalize doctor-assisted dying. Oregon, Vermont and Washington have enacted similar “end of life” measures. Montana’s highest court in 2008 ruled that terminally patients have a right to terminate their lives with the help of a physician.

Excerpt from article written by Jacob Gershman on The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.  Read full article at:  http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2016/06/08/doctor-assisted-suicide-legal-in-california-starting-thursday/

FACEBOOK AND FAMILY LAW

“What if I told you that a court had allowed service of process in a divorce case through Facebook? Or that two people recently found themselves in contempt of court for Facebooking a protected party? What if I told you a bunch of cool stories about opposing parties ruining their cases by broadcasting the finer details of their lifestyle to their online friends?

This is a general roundup of the state of Facebook and family law: from cases on the frontier, to stalking opposing clients, to a wave of new ethics rules regarding proficiency with technology.”

Original post written by Chandra Moss (CFLS), Kristen Holstrom, Mary Melech, and William Peacock for California Lawyer blog.  Read the full article here http://www.callawyer.com/2016/04/the-state-of-facebook-and-family-law/

Guns-On-Campus Bill To Become Law

Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he is allowing the guns-on-campus bill to become law without his signature.

The bill, Senate Bill 2376, allows full-time faculty, staff and other employees of Tennessee’s public colleges and universities who have handgun-carry permits to carry their guns on campus — but they must notify the local law enforcement agency with primary responsibility for security on their campus — the campus police, for example.

The governor said in a letter to the House and Senate speaker that he prefers to let campuses make their own decision.

He said: “I am letting SB 2376 become law without my signature. I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year. Although SB 2376 does not go as far as I would like in retaining campus control, the final version of the bill included input from higher education and was shaped to accommodate some of their concerns.

The bill won Senate approval 28-5 on April 19 and House approval the following day on a 69-24 vote.

The bill goes into effect July 1, but the bill gives law enforcement agencies with jurisdictions over each campus authority to develop and implement policies and procedures regarding the law’s requirement that employees notify law enforcement of their intent to go armed, and to offer voluntary courses or supplemental firearm training to employees who elect to go armed.

Excerpt from article written by Richard Locker of the Knoxville New Sentinel, Read full article at: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/politics/haslam-to-let-guns-on-campus-bill-to-become-law-31dedb25-a4d9-7a3b-e053-0100007ff39a-377856041.html