Children & Divorce: 6 Ways To Minimize The Impact

The ugly truth is that far more couples these days are getting divorced than ever before.

The divorce rate is high for young couples as well as older couples. Divorce is never an easy process and can be emotionally exhausting for both parties.

Children: The Collateral Damage Of Divorce

Children of divorcing parties, whether young or old, often suffer the emotional fallout of divorce. Mom and dad get so caught up in the division of marital property, finances, alimony, and child support that that they don’t realize how their children are physically and emotionally handling the divorce.
Divorce does impact children

Always keep in mind that what is best for your children should always come first. Their ability to adjust to the whole divorce process may take longer than you expect. It is not uncommon for children to carry a false sense of hope that their parents will reconcile at some point. This makes it difficult for them to accept the reality that mom and dad are splitting up and going their separate ways. Children typically love both parents and really don’t understand why their parents want to split up.

How Mitigate The Potential Damage

There are several tips that I believe are the most important when divorcing parents decide to inform the children of the divorce. I believe if these tips are taken to heart and utilized consciously then the whole process may be somewhat easier on the parents and children alike.

  • Break the news to your children about the divorce with your spouse present. Inform them together as a family and assure them that they are not responsible for the break up and that you and your spouse simply cannot live together anymore.
  • Assure the children that they are loved very much by you and your spouse and that nothing will ever change that. If both parents make every effort to co-parent throughout the process then it is less likely that the children will act out.
  • Encourage your children to ask questions and voice their concerns to both you and your spouse throughout the divorce process and after. This will make the children feel more open and at ease during the time of separation.
  • Avoid confrontation with your spouse and/or discussing facts of the case with your spouse in the presence of the children. Learning about the divorce is difficult enough on the children. Do not let them see the ugliness of the process and keep matters civil at all times.
  • Encourage your children to spend time with your spouse and vice versa. They need to know that both parents are still equally involved in their lives.
  • If you have a significant other during the divorce process, you should refrain from bringing him/her around your children or even letting your children learn that you are seeing someone. Your children need to deal with the divorce process one step at a time.

These are just a few tips that will help you deal with your children and make the process of divorce a little bit easier. Divorce is never an easy thing to go through and when children are involved it will become even more stressful. Always remember that before anything else, your children and their well being should be your first priority.

“Fighting for your rights”  Contact David Weissman and the law firm of Hollins, Raybin & Weissman for a confidential consultation of your case today at 615-256-6666.

Congratulations To Vince Wyatt!

Weissman, Vince and Ashley at Vince Wyatt's going away party

Weissman, Vince and Ashley at Vince’s going away party

The lawyers and staff of Hollins Raybin and Weissman want to take this opportunity to congratulate Vince Wyatt on his decision to join the Metropolitan Nashville District Attorney office.

After his many years with the firm, Vince decided this was a good time to make a change in his career path. He has been a staunch and zealous advocate for his clients, and proven to be an outstanding attorney and friend.

While he will be missed greatly, we wish Vince the best on this exciting move.

Hollins, Raybin and Weissman at Vince Wyatt's going away party

Raybin, Weissman and Hollins at the going away party

Surviving Divorce: Who Can You Trust During the Process?

surviving divorce

Surviving divorce can be a difficult process and it helps to have a solid network of support to assist you along the way. However, it’s rarely helpful to seek advice and counsel from everyone you encounter.

Although it might seem helpful at first, it can be extremely detrimental to you and your family to have multiple people weighing in with their opinions and advice on such an important decision.

Surviving Divorce: Where to Get Support

So, whom should you trust? Here are some key considerations about who you should turn to survive the difficult process of divorce:

1. Be careful around recently divorced people.

Myth: Every recently divorced person is an expert on the subject. Another myth: Recently divorced people will tell you everything you need to hear. In reality: Rarely will he or she tell you what you need to hear.

2. Be cautious with well-meaning family and friends.

When you are going through a divorce, your entire circle of family and friends may feel compelled to weigh in on the process. However, you should be extremely cautious about following the legal advice from anyone who isn’t your divorce attorney.

In most cases, the advice that you get from your “well-meaning” friends and family is worth exactly what you pay for it. Absolutely nothing!

Don’t allow your family and friends to create unrealistic expectations about your case. The facts of your case are as unique as you are.

3. Seek emotional support from your closest family and friends.

While it is important that you are cautious with their legal advice, consider seeking emotional support from family or friends that you would trust to manage your money or raise your children.

Rely on those who will tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. There is a huge difference between needs and wants.

4. Get help from support groups.

Legitimate divorce support groups sponsored by mainstream churches or qualified healthcare professionals are usually helpful. Make sure that the head of these groups are qualified to give advice on the subject.

There are excellent national resources and local resources that revolve around helping those who are surviving divorce.

5. Trust your attorney.

When it comes to the legal aspects of your case, you must follow the advice of your family law attorney. Therefore, it is imperative that you choose a divorce attorney that you trust with your money, your children, and your future.

6. Disclose confidential information only to your attorney

Every detail of your case must be disclosed to your attorney. The details you disclose will remain confidential only between you and your attorney. This information often contains intimate details about the client that is embarrassing. Only in certain circumstances, may your attorney disclose intimate details about your case without your consent.

7. Keep intimate details about your case to yourself

The attorney-client privilege only applies to information the client discloses to the attorney during the scope of the client’s representation. The same rule does not apply to the client disclosures made to any third party including family and friends.

Often times, those who you would trust to carry your deepest secrets to their grave are the very ones who act as a double agent and disclose this information to your spouse.

What You Musn’t Do When Surviving Divorce

A few years ago, I represented a husband who suspected that his wife was having an affair and he was right! The wife had been having the affair for over a year and made the critical mistake of telling her best friend all of the intimate details.

Unbeknownst to the wife, her friend also shared with her new boyfriend everything the wife told her. The boyfriend, who was recently divorced as a result of his wife’s adultery, contacted my client and gave him every detail of his wife’s affair including all trips planned in the future.

We hired a private investigator to document the details of the wife’s trip with her paramour. The private investigator videotaped the wife frolicking on the beach and verified that the couple was staying in the same hotel room together.

In mediation, we learned that the wife had not disclosed the affair to her attorney. The wife’s attorney threatened to fire her on the spot after she saw the private investigator photographs and videotapes of the affair. This information helped me negotiate a very favorable settlement for my client.

Always remember, when in doubt, keep your mouth shut. The phrase, “loose lips sink ships” applies to divorce cases as well!

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Surviving Divorce: How to Emotionally Prepare for Divorce

Surviving Divorce: How to Emotionally Prepare for Divorce

Regrettably, far too many marriages end in divorce. In fact, 2.4 million Americans got divorced in 2012. And, that number has increased for the third year in a row.

In our society, divorce is an ever-present reality to every couple that decides to marry. Therefore, if you are ever faced with this decision to get divorced, you must mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the difficulties that lie ahead.

Every divorce case is unique because each person involved in a divorce is unique. No one is ever fully prepared for all the issues that accompany a divorce.

I know. I have been divorced myself.

I have also been a family law attorney for almost 27 years and have represented hundreds of people going through this difficult process. Therefore, I know first-hand that every client, family member and friend must be fully prepared to embrace the process.

Emotional Preparation for the Divorce Process

If you are considering a divorce, one of the best things you can do is to prepare yourself emotionally. Although every situation is different, there are a few important reminders you must consider as you embark on the divorce process:

1. Divorce isn’t easy.

Naturally, the decision to divorce is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make. Divorce is a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Nothing about it is ever pleasant or easy.

Divorce can be emotionally and economically devastating to you, your spouse, your children and your entire family. Divorce and child custody cases involve many complex issues because they deal with couples that were madly in love with each other at one point.

Oftentimes, they grow to hate each other just as much. In most cases, there is a thin line between love and hate.

2. You are not a failure.

For individuals proceeding down the path of divorce, you must keep in mind that you are not a failure as a spouse, a parent, or a person.

Perfect marriages don’t exist. Perfect spouses do not exist. Perfect parents don’t exist. Perfect children don’t exist. Dysfunction exists in all of our households. It’s just a matter of degree.

3. There are no guarantees.

Unfortunately, we all live in an imperfect world. Bad things do happen to good people. That means sometimes good people get bad results in divorce cases.

Life is not always fair. Divorce is not always fair. The legal system is not always fair.

Sometimes a spouse and/or parent can do everything right and still wind up divorced with a household of messed up kids with a mind that will be emotionally scarred forever.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life. Marriage and divorce are no different. Keeping this in mind will help you through this challenging process.

How to Survive the Challenges of Divorce

Certainly, there are additional things you can do to help prepare yourself for a divorce so you can survive the process with your head, heart and dignity in tact.

In fact, that’s why I decided to write a book about it.

My book, Surviving Divorce, is the product of the wisdom I have gained as an experienced family law attorney. My book is a commonsense guide to dealing with the physical, emotional, and spiritual stresses that divorce puts on an individual, their friends and their families.

If you would like additional tips about how to survive going through a divorce, I encourage you to check out my book. You can get it here.

Electronic Medical Records Seeing An Increase In Use, As Well As In Malpractice Lawsuit Risks

Due to a recent concern, healthcare organizations have begun a new series of research and inquiries driven by the legal liability fears attached to electronic health records (EHRs). An EHR carries the possibility of being admissible in court due to its legal representation nature by storing the medical condition and treatment of any given person, at any given time. Furthermore, EHRs revolutionize cluttered filing rooms by retaining all the patient information, in addition to changing how medical professionals document patient meetings and to what extent. However, some fear the records can be too revealing. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act: privacy and security rules, requires all handlers of electronic healthcare data to keep an audit log of access to any personally identifiable information. Consequently, healthcare organizations have used the records to catch unauthorized employees looking at patient records, and therefore occasionally causing the corporations themselves to be liable. While the courts find metadata and the EHR system significant and ascertainable, some members of the general public worry that items will be missed, due to the well know rushed and hectic workings of a hospital, causing the records to be incomplete. Likewise, others claim that the malpractice risks will increase in response to the “artificially short deadlines,” for implementation, could tempt vendors to cut corners on developing projects and rushing employees through training. These factors when combined could inadvertently raise the risk of malpractice lawsuits against physicians and pressure liability insurers to raise their premiums.
However, others fully support the new system. Children’s Hospital has become the final health care system in the Milwaukee area to make the switch from paper to electronic health records. They expect to take the new system live within the later half of next year or early 2013. Yet, the final piece to tilt the scale in favor of EHRs was the incentive on the part of Medicare and Medicaid for those hospitals and physician offices that covert to EHRs. This new system, although possibly a breeding ground for lawsuits, also has the potential to force health systems to analyze and restructure the way they provide care. The NorthCrest Medical Center in Tennessee acting as an example of the latter. NorthCrest has reached the milestone of a 2009 law that provides Medicaid incentives to hospitals and physician offices that demonstrate “meaningful use” of an EHR. NorthCrest demonstrated “meaningful use” of the new technology designed to improve patient safety and decrease the overall cost of health care. Despite the seemingly high risk of malpractice claims, many healthcare organizations seem willing to adopt the new procedure in the never-ending attempt to provide higher quality care at a lower cost. Nevertheless, this is by no means a short term goal, the results of projects involving EHRs will likely not be apparent for years to come.
Sources:
Tennessee Hospital First In Nation To Receive Medicaid Incentives For ‘Meaningful Use’ Of An Emergency Department Electronic Health Record
Electronic Records May Increase Malpractice Lawsuit Risk
Big Data in health research IT requires new definition of “research,” says federal advisory committee
EHR Privacy Rule Threatens Research, Federal Advisers Say
Legislation Introduced To Boost Use Of Electronic Medical Records
Children’s Hospital begins conversion to electronic records
When EHRs Meet Malpractice Suits: New Concerns
Posted By: Eston Whiteside

Battered Woman’s Syndrome Gains Judicial Support

Recent court decisions emphasize a growing trend in the acceptance of the notion that battered partners can use force to defend themselves and even kill their abusers. This domestic violence concept, referred to as “battered woman syndrome,” is based on the abusive and occasionally life threatening situations in which partners can find themselves. Such violent situations cause them to firmly believe that killing their partner is the only way to ensure their survival. This concept has been controversial however, as neither the DSM nor the ICD medical classification guides include battered woman’s syndrome as a condition severe enough to excuse alleged offenders.
The latest judicial decision evidencing such a broad understanding of domestic violence was the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole’s decision to release Gaile Owens, 58. Owens received the death penalty for being an accessory to the first-degree murder of her husband, Ron Owens, in 1984. Owens contracted with a man named Sidney Porterfield to kill her husband while she and her two sons were away. Porterfield beat Ron Owens to death with a tire iron in the couple’s home, and also received the death penalty. However, testimony of sexual assaults and physical abuse suffered by Gaile at the hands of her husband Ron led Tennessee Governor, Phil Bredesen, to believe Gaile could have been suffering from “battered woman syndrome.” Therefore, Bredesen abandoned Gaile’s sentence of death by lethal injection and arranged for her to be released on the condition she would regularly report to a parole officer in Nashville.
While the courts were originally hostile to this “defense,” battered woman syndrome (BWS) has now gained widespread acceptance not only as a mitigating circumstance, but even as a complete defense in some circumstances. Christopher Slobogin, a law and psychiatry professor at Vanderbilt University, gave some explanations for this change in judicial opinion. One element of BWS is “learned helplessness,” where the victim of domestic abuse believe they are powerless and don’t try to remove themselves from abusive and dangerous relationships. In addition, the number of social services, such as crisis hotlines and domestic violence shelters, has grown rapidly over the last 20 years. This increase in support coupled with the learned helplessness characteristic of BWS has persuaded courts to accede BWS as a “legitimate source of mitigation of punishment.”
Although BWS is not a legal defense, it can be used as a method of defending a woman accused of a crime. Likewise, BWS may legally constitute self-defense, provocation, insanity (according to the M’Naghten Rules), and diminished capacity. BWS helps a jury understand the woman’s motive for murdering her abuser, which from her perspective was self-defense. David Raybin, a Nashville attorney with Hollins, Raybin, and Weissman, discussed this tactic in one of his recent articles, stating that BWS works and can be used to support duress not only in homicide cases, but in any case where the woman claims she committed a criminal act because she was forced to do so by her boyfriend/spouse. Furthermore, since the courts have found battered woman have a self-defense right when killing in a non-beating situation, many have become hopeful that the steps being adopted by the courts will help end violence against women once and for all.
Sources:
Battered Woman’s Syndrome: Trial Tactics
Posted By: Eston Whiteside

Lifetime Alimony Award Ruled Against By Tennessee Supreme Court

In a unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court declared lifetime alimony to be inapplicable when the receiving spouse is in good health, receives a good salary, and has received substantial assets in the division of martial property. The highly anticipated decision was the product of a 2009 divorce proceeding between Johanna and Craig Gonsewski. Craig Gonsewski took home an annual salary of $137,000 with an additional $38,000 bonus as a comptroller of a restaurant equipment manufacturer. His wife Johanna, who is employed in the information technology sector of the state, received an annual salary of $72,000. In the Court of Appeals, Craig Gonsewski was ordered to pay $1,250 to his ex-wife each month.
In reversing the decision by the Court of Appeals, Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark noted the impossibility for a separated couple to enjoy the same standard of living they enjoyed while married with mutual assets and income. Moreover, Clark determined that Tennessee law clearly favors temporary over lifetime alimony and intends for such awards to be used in an effort to ease the transition from married to single life. He went on to state that lifetime awards should be reserved for spouses who due to mitigating factors such as age or extensive unemployment would have difficulty becoming self-sufficient. Likewise, while Johanna Gonsewski was in her 40’s at the time of the divorce and had worked throughout her marriage to establish a successful career, most lifetime awards go to women who are over 50 and have sacrificed their careers for their family.
Additionally, it was held that Johanna Gonsewski was not entitled to the lump-sum alimony award of her attorney fees and expenses for both the trial and appeal, as she was considered to be partially responsible for them and was financially capable of paying them herself. The Supreme Court ultimately reinstated the judgment of the trial court and determined the lower court did not abuse its discretion in awarding alimony to neither party. The decision is expected to shape the allocation of money in divorce proceedings across the state.

Posted By: Eston Whiteside

Divorce More Accessible and Cheaper Under New Tennessee Rule

In an effort to improve access to justice the Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that will allow Tennesseans without minor children or dependents, pension plans, and property or businesses to file for divorce without lawyers. The new rule allows those eligible to use “plain-language” forms for “agreed divorces,” those that are uncontested and bear no significant legal issues. To be eligible, couples must not have children who are minors, disabled, or still in high school; the wife must not be pregnant; the couple must not own any property or a business; they must not have pension plans and the decision to end the marriage must be mutual. If the couple fails to meet these requirements then a lawyer must be retained. However, it is suggested that the couple consult a lawyer when preparing the divorce agreement as a judge may disapprove of the agreement if it is deemed unfair. Likewise, the forms will include easy-to-read instructions that explains what to expect in court, as well as advice on what to wear and how to behave.
These “plain-language” forms were recommended in January by the Access to Justice Commission, an agency appointed by the Supreme Court to research ways to provide more efficient avenues to justice, with an emphasis on cases involving lower income families. Chief Justice Cornelia Clark added, “the forms are not intended to replace the need for an attorney but rather provide a helpful resource for attorneys and also for Tennesseans who choose to file for divorce on their own because the can’t afford to hire an attorney.” The new rule goes into effect September 1 and the forms will be available for download at www.tncourts.gov or www.justiceforalltn.com.
Sources
Tennessee Supremes Approve Do-It-Yourself Divorce Forms, Offer Fashion Advice
Posted By: Eston Whiteside

Tips For Handling An Insurance Claim

Being rear ended during the early morning rush hour or straining your back while on the work site, accidents happen. Knowledge is one of the most important tools you can have when misfortune strikes. Most people would agree that the most difficult and confusing aspect of being injured or involved in an accident is managing the insurance claim. The adverse nature of an accident alone can be more than some can handle, therefore even a basic understanding of how the insurance system functions can prove to be significant in settling your claim.

The Friendly Insurance Claims Adjuster

As the representative of the insurance company, the claims adjuster is the person who makes the decisions that ultimately decide how much the insurance company gains or loses. Therefore, it should be no surprise that they are well trained to ensure the insurance companies receive the maximum benefits while providing you with the minimum. One of these methods is by conducting a “friendly” phone call to gather information about your claim. The adjuster may use this information to make suggestions they are not qualified to make, such as medical treatment decisions. A person who has been injured in an accident should only base their choice of medical treatment on the opinion of their doctor to ensure they receive the appropriate and warranted care.

Moreover, it should also be known that any statement or prior medical condition may be used by the adjuster to your disadvantage. As a part of their investigation, an adjuster will often phone you and maintain that you answer questions pertaining to your claim, such as the facts of the incident, the degree you were injured, and information about any past claims you might have made. It is not uncommon for the adjuster to fail to inform you that any answers you provide may be used in a manner that decreases your claims worth. Likewise, the discovery of previous injuries or pain may also be used to diminish, if not eliminate altogether, the value of your claim.

Three Important Issues With Your Claim

Further, there are three issues adjusters will examine when investigating any medical treatment you receive for your injury, and the presence of such can be used to reduce your claim’s overall worth. The issues that would prove most detrimental to your claim are failure to treat immediately, inconsistency of treatment history, and gaps in treatment. Understand that the insurance company will analyze every medical decision you make or don’t make in regard to your injury, thereby making manner of treatment a significant aspect of your claim.

Consider All Of Your Options

In addition, it is crucial to evaluate your claim fully and consider all your options. As with most things in life, the quick and easy way is not always the best way. Always consider how an accident could affect you in the long term, as well as the short term. Factors such as losing one’s job because of a settlement, one’s employer going out of business or being sold, and the duration/type of medical coverage for your injury are important issues to consider.
While the advice provided above is not intended to be rigorously followed as an inflexible standard, it nonetheless shows the significance and value of understanding the insurance claims system and being prepared. By taking measures to be confident and ready in the event of an accident it becomes more likely that you will receive the relief you deserve. So the next time an accident occurs will you be ready?

Sources
Five Secrets Insurance Companies Dont Want You To Know
Posted By: Eston Whiteside