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Practice2017-04-18T15:59:20-05:00

Seber Law has successfully represented a variety of cases in several areas of law, including family law, criminal law,  and civil litigation. We are a general practice firm, and we are ready to represent you.

Family Law

A divorce may be granted for any of the causes referenced in § 36-4-101 (see below) if the acts complained of were committed while the plaintiff was a bona fide resident of this state or if the acts complained of were committed out of this state and the plaintiff resided out of the state at the time, if the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in this state six (6) months next preceding the filing of the complaint.

Grounds for divorce in TN: (1) Either party, at the time of the contract, was and still is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation, (2) Either party has knowingly entered into a second marriage, in violation of a previous marriage, still subsisting, (3) Either party has committed adultery, (4) Willful or malicious desertion or absence of either party, without a reasonable cause, for one whole year, (5) Being convicted of any crime that, by the laws of the state, renders the party infamous, (6) Being convicted of a crime that, by the laws of the state, is declared to be a felony, and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary, (7) Either party has attempted the life of the other, by poison or any other means showing malice, (8) Refusal, on the part of a spouse, to remove with that person’s spouse to this state, without a reasonable cause, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two years, (9) The woman was pregnant at the time of the marriage, by another person, without the knowledge of the husband, (10) Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of either party, when the spouse has contracted either such habit after marriage, (11) The husband or wife is guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as renders cohabitation unsafe and improper, which may also be referred to in pleadings as inappropriate marital conduct, (12) The husband or wife has offered such indignities to the spouse’s person as to render the spouse’s position intolerable, and thereby forced the spouse to withdraw, (13) The husband or wife has abandoned the spouse or turned the spouse out of doors for no just cause, and has refused or neglected to provide for the spouse while having the ability to so provide, (14) Irreconcilable differences between the parties, and (15) For a continuous period of two or more years that commenced prior to or after April 18, 1985, both parties have lived in separate residences, have not cohabited as man and wife during such period, and there are no minor children of the parties.

A complaint or petition for divorce on any ground for divorce listed in this section must have been on file for sixty days before being heard if the parties have no unmarried child under eighteen years of age, and must have been on file at least ninety (90) days before being heard if the parties have an unmarried child under eighteen years of age. The sixty-day or ninety-day period shall commence on the date the complaint or petition is filed.

Unless there’s an agreement between the child’s parents, Tennessee family courts have the authority to award the “care, custody, and control” of children to either or both of the parents. The most important consideration in such a decision, however, is the best interests of the child.

When determining custody arrangements, a judge will consider: the stability of the family unit, the reasonable preference of a child over the age of 12, the mental and physical health of both parents, any instances of domestic violence or abuse to a child or spouse, the love, affection, and emotional ties of each parent to the child, the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment, continuity of care, each parent’s willingness to allow the child time with the other parent, the character and behavior of any persons who live or visit each parent’s home, and each parent’s potential performance of parenting duties.

Every child support case begins with the parents’ legal obligation to support their child. Under Tennessee law, both parents are jointly responsible for their minor child’s care, nurture, welfare, education and support. Furthermore, the duty to support a biological or legally adopted son or daughter continues until that child’s eighteenth birthday, or until the child’s high school class graduates if a 19-year-old.

Child support is calculated using the Tennessee guidelines based on both parents income using an income worksheet and time spent with the child. If a parent has other children he or she pays supports for, they may reduce the child support in consideration of the other children.

A parent may also be required to provide insurance coverage for the child if he or she can receive such coverage through work.

In all Tennessee adoptions, the termination of all legal and biological parents’ parental rights is necessary. When an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents as if the child was actually born to them. After the finalization of the adoption, a new birth certificate is issued with the adoptive parents listed as mother and father and including any name changes of the child.

With all adoptions, except for relatives, the child must be in the physical custody of the adoptive parents for six months prior to finalization of the adoption. (The final termination of parental rights usually occurs much sooner.) The six month period is so that an agency can supervise the placement and report to the court their evaluation of the placement.

The status of being or not being related to the child to be adopted has a large bearing on the legal processes involved. “Related” means grandparents or any degree of great-grandparents, aunts or uncles, or any degree of great-aunts or great-uncles, or stepparent, or cousins of the first degree or any siblings of the whole or half-degree or any spouse of the above listed relatives

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If the mother is married when the child is born or the child is born within three hundred (300) days of the entry of a final decree of divorce, the husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father.  If the mother is not married during this time period, the biological father can sign a VAP to establish paternity at the time of the child’s birth. Involuntary establishment of paternity is done through a court proceeding where the court issues an “order of parentage.” If, after DNA testing, the court determines that the father is in fact the biological father, the court will issue an order of parentage, making the father the legal father. Within the proceeding to determine paternity, the court can also issue orders of custody, visitation, and child support.

More Areas of Law

Criminal law is enforced primarily at the state level; and while the types of conduct criminalized do not vary much from state to state, the way in which these laws are enforced often does. Tennessee criminal laws include provisions for violent crimes such as assault and battery, robbery, sexual assault, and the various types of homicide (from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder).

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Civil litigation includes a variety of practice areas that include, probate, personal injury law, family law, contract law, and many others.

The basics of the civil litigation process include: initial pleadings stage, answers and counterclaims, discovery, pretrial pleadings and motions, trial, and appeals.

In most jurisdictions, civil litigation court rules allow the parties to settle any disputes through mediation or arbitration. In some cases, civil judges may order the parties to mediate the dispute. Only when the dispute cannot be resolved would a civil trial come into play.