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Tips for sharing custody during the holidays

If this is your first holiday season since your divorce, you and your co-parent will likely need to do some extra planning to help things go as smoothly as possible as you each make plans to spend time with your kids. Extra patience is also a requirement. Things aren't going to go perfectly, and there may be some misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Flexibility is often necessary. Even if your co-parent seems to have done something to intentionally aggravate or inconvenience you, don't respond in kind. That will only keep the pattern going and -- most of all -- end up hurting the kids.

What is the difference between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7?

Are you one of the many Tennessee residents who struggle with debt? Do you feel that you have no way out of your current situation? Guess what? That may not be true. Bankruptcy may offer the relief you are looking for.

There are two types of bankruptcy available to consumers: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. They are very different in what they accomplish. How does each of these forms of bankruptcy work?

How can you help fund your heirs' education?

One of the goals that many people have when developing their estate plan is to provide money for the educational needs of their children, grandchildren and possibly even future generations. Often, this is accomplished by setting up one or more educational trusts.

There are two key types of educational trusts: individual and pot. Individual trusts, as the name suggests, are set up for a specific person's education. Pot trusts are intended to be used by multiple people.

What is required to adopt your stepchildren?

When you marry a person with children, the kids often become very much your own — particularly if their other parent is no longer a part of their lives. However, being a stepparent is not a legal role. You have no legal rights or responsibilities regarding those children.

Can you adopt your stepchildren and become their legal parent? That depends. Both legal parents must agree to it. If the children's other parent is no longer alive, then you need only your spouse's approval. However, if the other parent is still alive and a court hasn't terminated their parental rights, you will first need to get their consent.

How can a special needs trust help a loved one?

If you have a child or other loved one for whom you're responsible who has a physical and/or mental disability, you likely are concerned about making sure that they receive the care they need if they outlive you. That means making sure that there's money available for that care. Special needs trusts are generally the best way to do that. They can also help protect your loved one's own money as well as government benefits while you're still alive.

These trusts can be used to protect assets that your disabled loved one may have been awarded in a legal case. For example, if they were severely injured in a car accident and received a settlement or award from the at-fault driver, they might have a significant sum of money.

When is bankruptcy your best option after divorce?

Divorce can have a devastating impact on your credit and your financial situation as a whole. Sometimes, spouses pile on debt to joint credit cards on their way out the door. In other cases, people who relied on their husband or wife to make all the financial and investment decisions learn too late that they were reckless with that money. Divorced spouses can find themselves with more debt than they can pay off and credit scores so low that moving on with their life can be extremely challenging.

One family law attorney says, "Clients are often devastated when their spouses leave them high and dry and responsible for all debts in a marriage. This can cripple your financial reserve and credit score."

For recovering alcoholics, child custody can remain a challenge

If you're a divorcing or divorced parent who has struggled with alcohol, you may believe that your chances of being granted shared child custody or even unsupervised visitation are slim to none. That's not necessarily true. Whether you and your co-parent are determining custody as you divorce or you're considering seeking a modification of the child custody order months or years later, it's important to know how your history with alcohol will impact your case.

Judges who are deciding custody cases need to consider the safety and well-being of the children above all else. Therefore, if your alcohol-fueled behavior has resulted in drunk driving, domestic violence or neglect or endangerment of your children, a judge won't likely be inclined to let you have unsupervised access to them — particularly if that behavior was recent.

Do you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

When facing a number of financial struggles, many people in Tennessee want to get out from under their debt as quickly as possible. However, due to negative reputations of many debt relief options, like bankruptcy, you and numerous others may continue to slowly chip away at outstanding balances that only seem to grow.

If you are truly interested in getting back on the right financial track, considering bankruptcy could prove beneficial to you. Even just having the right information could impact your decision. Depending on your specific circumstances, you could qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

What are my wage garnishment rights?

If you are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing you need is for your take-home pay to get any smaller. Nevertheless, this is always a danger if you fall behind on your debts and a creditor takes you to court.

A creditor who successfully sues you for an unpaid debt may be able to garnish your wages to reclaim what you owe. This can be devastating to your fragile budget, and you may want to seek legal advice on how to protect your rights.

Should you name co-executors for your estate plan?

If you've begun developing your estate plan, or at least thinking about it, you know that one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is who will be the executor. This is the person who will, as the name implies, "execute" your plan and see that all of your wishes are carried out, in accordance with the law. It's an important responsibility.

You may believe that it's best to give this job to one person. Having two or more executors is just a recipe for conflict, right? Co-executors have the same amount of authority over the estate. It's not like one of them answers to the other or their roles are legally confined to specific areas. Even if they divide up their duties, they're going to have to work together on some things.

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