Tennessee Divorce Guide

Enforcement

In Tennessee, a divorce becomes final when all Enforcementissues that need to be resolved are settled to the court’s satisfaction. Those issues include division of assets and debt, financial support, and (for those that are parents) parenting time. The final order can be a result of an agreement (settlement) by the parties, a resolution using mediation or collaboration, or by decision from the judge. In the final divorce decree, the court will resolve:

  • Child Support
  • Parenting Time (Visitation)
  • Child Custody
  • Spousal Support (Alimony)
Child Support

Once an order for child support has been granted, the parent required to pay (usually the non-custodial parent) must adhere to the specifics of the order, and pay on time and in full until the child reaches the age of majority (18) or graduates from High School (whichever occurs later), or the court order is changed by any judge with appropriate jurisdiction. When a parent fails to pay, or falls significantly behind (Pennsylvania considers significant to mean more than 30 days behind), the custodial parent may make a complaint to the local support enforcement unit in an attempt to enforce the order.

The custodial parent may want to request of the noncustodial parent that s/he get caught up one last time before making the complaint, as there is always a delay in enforcement. They will contact the noncustodial parent and encourage him/her into compliance by taking away other privileges the owing parent enjoys. The following denials can occur (Note: parenting time cannot be denied, by law):

  • wage assignment or garnishment
  • income tax refund intercepts
  • license suspensions and revocations – driver’s, professional, sporting, recreational
  • liens against property
If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.
Common violations of custody orders
  • Interfering with the communication between the child and the other parent
  • Denying parenting time for non-payment of child support
  • Preventing scheduled parenting time
  • Taking the child without notifying the other parent

The noncustodial, non paying parent can also be charged with contempt by the court that issued the order, and can face fines, jail time and probation for non-compliance.

finger pointing rightHaving an on-line Parenting Plan will give your ex no room to interfere with scheduled activities, since s/he can check it when there’s an urge to change things at the last minute. This puppy is worth its weight in gold. See our Parenting Plans page. You can inform the ex that if you put an activity on the schedule, it ain’t changing without discussion. Your kids can view it too and get a greater sense of security.

You will get ONE shot at winning custody – Learn How Here

Parenting Time (Visitation)

By law, the custodial parent may not alter the terms of a visitation schedule ordered by the court. There are no exceptions, except in an emergency situation that threatens the welfare of the custodial parent, the child, or the child’s siblings. These exceptions are usually tied to domestic violence and an imminent court order that will likely change the terms of the visitation. Enforcing Parenting Time can be problematic, and is more an exercise in close documentation of times and events that can be presented to a judge as a pattern of denial. If you are being denied parenting time, write everything down. Take careful notes. Include dates, times, what occurred, who said what, and what the result was. Judges frown on interference, and if it is serious enough, will revert primary (physical) custody to the other parent. In the end, if you are being denied visitation, you must take the other parent back to court, a cost you may or may not be able to recover from the other parent.

Child Custody

Parents must conform to the letter of the court order for custody. A final divorce order will contain a parenting plan (a schedule), indicating when the child(ren) will be with each parent, and for how long. Some parents abuse the schedule, keeping kids longer than approved, or attempt to disrupt the other parent’s life by making pick-ups and drop-offs more difficult. Custodial parents have been known to not be home when the other parent arrives for a pickup. The list is endless, and unfortunately, the parent suffering the game-playing must initiate a court action to bring the other parent into compliance. That means more cost aggravation and effort.

Alimony

When one party fails to pay spousal support (alimony), it can become a burden to the receiving party. The recourse for the party suffering the delinquency is unfortunately similar to violations of visitation and custody; you must take the other party back to court and ask the judge to encourage compliance. The court has the ability to garnish (assign) wages of the non-payor, and have the deductions sent directly to the party due the money. Other remedies include seizure of property for sale, or jail time in extreme circumstances.

Custody and significant distance between parents

As time passes, lives change, and with those changes come living in more than one location. When addresses change of people parenting their children, challenges arise, and the courts attempt to proactively deal with those changes. Most courts include in the parenting plan provisions for when either parent wishes to relocate. When the custodial parent wishes to move the child’s residence, and the move is greater than 60 miles, the custodial parent must get either the other parent’s consent, or the approval of the court. In cases where the custodial parent has moved the child without consent of either, they are subject to sanctions by the jurisdiction they left. The fleeing custodian can be forced to return to where they left, and extreme case, lose primary custody. The custodial parent faces an uphill challenge, in that s/he remains a resident of the State s/he left until residency is established (usually 6 months). This presumes, of course, that the noncustodial parent goes to court to recover his/her child and parenting time.

finger pointing rightLooking for divorce forms? All divorce or separation processes require that you gather all relevant forms, fill them out correctly and file the forms as directed by the court. The most efficient way to get them in front of you is to download the divorce forms, complete with instructions that hand-hold you through the process.
Temporary visitation

A court of this state which does not have jurisdiction to modify a child custody determination, may issue a temporary order enforcing:

  • A visitation schedule made by a court of another state
  • The visitation provisions of a child custody determination of another state that does not provide for a specific visitation schedule, or
  • The visitation provision of a child custody determination of another state by implementing makeup or substitute visitation

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