Strategically Meeting Your Legal Needs

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Contents

Q:

I am on PCC probation and I have had some financial troubles so I would like to know if I could be violated for not paying?

I'm on 11-29 probation in Smyrna TN for the possession of alcohol under the age and indecent exposure charge. I've never violated before and I've never missed a payment until now

A:

Depending on the terms of your probation and the agreement you executed with the probation office, you could be violated for not paying probation costs. This would be what is known as a "technical violation" and could result in a new criminal charge. However, it is possible to negotiate and explain things to the probation officer in hopes of keeping them from filing a probation violation on you. You need to contact a criminal defense attorney in your area in the event you do get charged with a violation of probation.

Q:

Tn seized my vehicle because someone else was driving it on a revoked license due to DUI. What rights do I have?

What do I need to confront Nashville"s DA prior to the hearing? If no settlement can be reached, what do I need to prepare for the hearing to better my chances of regaining possession of the said vehicle? The driver and I are co-owners of the vehicle. Therefore, both of our names are on the title of the vehicle. No arrest was made of the driver. The driver was cited for driving on revoked and will be dismissed when a valid license is presented at the next court date.

A:

You need to file a Petition for a Hearing with the Department of Safety. It costs $350 plus court costs, which can be waived if you are indigent. Based on what you have provided, you have a defense to the seizure because you are the true owner of the vehicle. Most of the time they will offer to settle with you for far below the costs of replacement of the vehicle. However, if you hire an attorney, based on the information you provided, you have a good chance of getting the vehicle back. You need to act quickly and file the petition. Good Luck.

Q:

I need to know what documentation is needed in pursuing visitation and possible custody of our granddaughter.

We have been financially, as well as, emotionally providing for our 2-year-old granddaughter since before her birth. Our son tried to make a go of he and the mother's relationship by living together over a year, but emotional and physical abuse by the mother led to him deciding to end he and the mother's relationship. They lived with us a month after the birth of the baby, and most recently they lived with us for 2 months until the mother became verbally abusive to me, and almost physical. The police led her out of our home instead of jail, only because we struggled with being the "bad guys" and the baby one day knowing we placed her mom in jail. We should have in hindsight...The mother is refusing to "ever allow us to see the baby", and has told my son he cannot see her either.

A:

You need to consult a family law attorney. However, based on what you have provided, you have developed a substantial relationship with your granddaughter and should have grounds to seek, at a minimum, visitation with the child. Grandparents' rights are strong in Tennessee but you need an attorney to evaluate your specific case. Good Luck!

Q:

Threatening to be charged with hindering a secured creditor, are they allowed?

I totaled a car, not at fault, and owed 1500 on it. I didn't have insurance at the time. The car lot I financed it through is threatening me with hindering a secured creditor, which is a felony in Tennessee. What can I do? And are they able to do this?

A:

It is a class E felony to hinder a secured creditor if you have the "intent to hinder the enforcement of the interest or lien." Based on the information you have provided you do not have the required intent and therefore would have a defense to such a charge. They are able to bring the charge if they so choose but you have a defensible position. You could also try and settle with them. I recommend that you contact a criminal defense attorney in your area to assist you. Especially if you get charged.

Q:

Is a seat belt violation a misdemeanor in Tennessee? I thought it was only an infraction, but TCA 55-9-603 suggests otherwise.

Will this appear in a background check? Criminal record? Do I have to disclose this when filling out employment applications, etc?

A:

It will show up as a traffic citation or not at all. It is technically a class C misdemeanor but would not likely be reported on your criminal record or background check. It will show up on your driving record with the Department of Safety. If you are worried, go ahead and disclose it. It's a traffic citation. No different than running a stop sign.

Q:

In the State of TN, will an Order granting grandparent visitation in the Juvenile/Dependency Court survive a TPR and Adoption?

Juvenile/Dependency Court granted grandparent visitation in a dependency/neglect case. The other set of grandparents have filed a TPR/adoption. Will the Grandparent Visitation Order survive the TPR/Adoption?

A:

Based on the information you have provided, it is possible that the visitation Order could survive the TPR/adoption. The reason being, the existing visitation Order will remain a valid court order. However, that being said, when a TPR/Adoption is filed in either circuit or chancery court, then the jurisdiction over that matter leaves the Juvenile Court and vests with the court in which the adoption was filed. Therefore, that court, may alter or amend the order or require an additional hearing. In order to have your question answered fully, you need to speak with a family law attorney in your area.

Q:

Can a child with a hyphenated last name use either one in school?

I am divorced and have sole custody of my daughter. She has mine and her biological father's last name. He has not been in her life since she was 8 months old and before then only a handful of visits. For example, her last name is Smith-Jones and Smith is my maiden name. I only use Smith as her last name on everything. Recently she started school and they told me I must use Jones as her last name. She doesn't even know the name Jones. She only knows her last name as Smith. Can they make her use the last names Jones or can she use either?

A:

She has to use the legal name which is on her birth certificate. However, if her father is not in her life at all, it is possible to get her name changed to your last name. I would recommend you contact a family law attorney in your area to advise you on the name change issue. Otherwise, her legal name, the one on her birth certificate, will be the name used.

Q:

If the state is going to automatically take your newborn wouldn't they do it in the hospital?

I lost custody of my first 3 children and my mom has custody. I just gave birth to my 4th and the hospital let me take her home with no problems. My mom is now trying to say the state asked her if she would take in my new baby. But I haven't heard anything from any social workers of any kind. And the reason I lost my others was because I was doing cough medicine and now I have been clean and have a job and my own place. Can they do this over past issues or is she lying?

A:

You do not have to turn over your newest child unless ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction. Your previous issues could and likely will come into play but these issues are very fact-specific and you should be proactive and contact an attorney who can advise you on your specific situation. In short, you should not simply take your mother's word for it until it is ordered by the court. Good Luck.

Q:

Recently divorced but my ex was granted auto & is in both names. How do I get it put in his name if he won't agree to do it himself?

Recently divorced & ex was granted auto. The car has a lien which is in both our names. I have asked repeatedly for him to put it in his name and he refuses. We are going back to court on another matter. What are my options for getting my name off this big car loan?

A:

Normally, your marital dissolution agreement will require the spouse awarded the property to refinance the property in his or her sole name. If this was not the case then you will have to motion the court or in the alternative contact the finance company on the car and see what their policy is for removing your name. If your marital dissolution agreement did require the refinance, you can sue him to enforce the agreement. Seek the advice of a local attorney. Good Luck.

Q:

Lying on interrogatories

My husband is trying to claim alienation on my behalf with the children- but the fact is- he has only called them 2x in 2 years and I can prove he travels, parties and simply chooses not to see them- he is also seriously injured including brain injury and PTSD — he claims that I withhold the kids, but we agreed on me supervising. I can prove several lies in his discovery responses- especially in regards to his travels and allegations about visit conduct, etc. He also complained in the interrogatory that I wouldn't let him take the kids out alone, but then he invited me to join them (I can prove). Ideally — I feel he needs supervision — with injuries and past violent behaviors (I can prove) I understand it seems to be almost impossible to get supervised visitation.

A:

Based on your question it appears that you have an ongoing divorce that is in the discovery phase which is why written discovery (interrogatories) have been answered. This typically indicates that one or both of you have an attorney. if you do not, you need to seek one as a contested divorce is not something you should be handling on your own. So if you have an attorney, ask him or her these questions.

That being said, there are mechanisms for sanctions in discovery responses and you can use his untruthful responses to impeach his credibility in a hearing or deposition provided you can prove his responses are untruthful. Again, please consult your attorney or retain one if you do not have one. Good Luck.

Q:

What grounds do I have for divorce

My husband has cheated throughout the marriage and also fathered a child outside the marriage — he has also been in prison for most of our marriage.

A:

Tennessee does not require a fault ground in order to grant a divorce. However, a fault ground does come into play when it comes to property division and spousal support. Further, his incarceration will come into play when it comes to child custody if you have a child together. As such, it appears you may have enough evidence to argue adultery as grounds as well as the fact that he was in prison. I recommend you consult a local family law attorney.

Q:

In Tennessee, what is the legal way to evict a tenant's rights?

I live in Newport Tennessee, and have had some trouble paying my rent on time. The landlord was understanding and told me and my husband not to worry out it that he would just write it off as a loss on his taxes, that we had always paid and understood our situation. So with that being said, we told him we would make up the couple months we were behind out of our tax money at the beginning of the yr and he was fine with that also. Then he came to us 3 weeks ago and asked us to sign a fake least stating we paid more than we actually did in rent so he could get a loan on the house and we wouldn't sign it. then he came back the next week and said he was raising our rent by $250 more. then last week he came and told us just to move and is threatening lawyers and eviction. What are our rights on this? Note: there is no lease on this home, only verbal agreements so far, and we have done numerous chores around the yard such as cut trees at our expense and was never reimbursed and even made a yard with flowerbeds. Done some inside work as well. We also paid a deposit when we moved in 2 yrs ago, Are we entitled to that back if we have to move?

A:

Normally, your rights are defined by a written lease. However, because you did not sign a lease your rights are going to be defined by your oral agreement and evidence of past performance between yourself and the landlord. It also sounds like your landlord is trying to engage in some shady or fraudulent practices. This will be very fact-specific and I recommend you go speak to a lawyer so that you can present all of the information. Based on what you have stated, you are entitled to written notice of eviction which will have to state a ground for why you are being evicted. But I would need much more information to properly advise which is why I recommend you consult a local attorney.

Q:

Son was given written permission to scrap some copper. Can he now be arrested for stealing because the guy changed his mind?

Son was given written permission to scrap copper. I did so and received a check. The guy is now threatening to have son arrested for stealing the $154. Is this a possibility when he still has the note giving him written permission to scrap?

A:

In order to be convicted of theft in Tennessee, your son could have to be without the owner's effective consent. Based on the information you have provided, your son had the owner's consent to scrap the copper. Unfortunately, that does not mean that he cannot be arrested but rather that he would have an excellent defense. Make sure that the note is kept in a safe place and if your son is arrested tell him not to make any statements to the officers and call a criminal defense attorney immediately.

If he cannot afford one, tell him to refrain from talking until he goes to his first court appearance and asks to be appointed counsel. Until something happens, do not let the threats from the purported owner of the copper to instigate you into a confrontation with him.

Q:

Do I need a criminal lawyer?

My husband is incarcerated on a revocation of probation. But his sentencing and time are not correct. The division of corrections is not helpful nor is the corrections center in bartlett. We just need his time/sentencing to be corrected or reviewed. What do I do??

A:

You definitely need a criminal defense attorney. Preferably the one who represented your husband in the underlying charge. Your attorney will get certified copies of the final judgments in your husband's case as well as documentation regarding any pre-trial jail credit he may have earned. Once these documents are gathered, a calculation can be made regarding the sentence and if necessary a motion filed to correct the error. Unfortunately for you, this task is not likely something you can do yourself because you simply do not know what to look for. I highly recommend you consult a criminal defense attorney.

Q:

How do I start to ask for More child support?

I was divorced in 2005. We went before the judge for a temp. Parenting plan and my then-husband acted so badly the judge granted a divorce on the spot. He left the details up to the lawyers to settle. There was never a parenting plan filed. Our daughter has lived with me since along with his son on and off through the years. He was ordered to pay 160.00 dollars a month. I now have talked him into 240 a month but it's like pulling teeth to get the money. I have never put up much of a fuse but our daughter is in her Freshman year of high school now and she is evolved in many different activities that cost more. His son moved out 6 months ago leaving no one in his house needing support. He owns three properties and several toys. I can not get him to make our daughter a priority.

A:

The amount of child support he could be required to pay will depend on both of your incomes, as well as the number of days per year he exercises visitation in comparison to the number of days you have her. With that said, you need to establish a Permanent Parenting Plan which will include a child support order and more clearly defines both of your visitation rights. I would advise you to contact a family law attorney in your area. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can seek the assistance of your local child support enforcement office. Child support enforcement will assist you and will pursue child support on your behalf, especially if your daughter receives some sort of state benefit such as TennCare. Good Luck.

Q:

I missed a court date for a traffic ticket because I had the dates mixed up.

Got pulled over for speeding 50 in a 40, got a mandatory court date for driving with no license. I got my license within 2 weeks of getting the ticket. I thought my court date was for tomorrow (9/19/14), but it actually was for today (9/18/14). I don't know what action to take now, as this is my first/only ticket and I'd really hate for it to turn into more because of a silly oversight on my part. I am most likely going to go in tomorrow and explain, but I don't know if this will do me any good and just land me in jail from a warrant I may/may not have.

Thanks in advance.

A:

Prior to going to Court on 9/19, it would be advisable to call the clerks office at the Court you were supposed to appear and ask if any type of warrant was issued based on your failure to appear. Then I would appear in court with my license and explain what happened to the Judge. Based on what I have seen I believe the Judge will accept your explanation. Especially since you now have your driver's license.

Q:

My ex is very mentally abusive to my now 12-year-old daughter. She does NOT want to go for visitation. Does she have a choice?

He attempted to commit suicide in front of us, he constantly puts her and me down, he then ignores her and makes her feel worthless. He has also tried to make her sleep with him prior to his new relationship and makes her very uncomfortable. This is just a small sample of things he has done in the last 18 months.

A:

Unfortunately, children do not have a choice when it comes to court-ordered visitation. If you have a Permanent Parenting Plan or other types of visitation, which is court-ordered, you will have to abide by it until a different order is entered by the court. However, based on the information you have provided it would appear you have grounds for modification of the visitation schedule. I highly recommend you seek the counsel of an attorney in your area with regard to a potential modification.

Additionally, based on the information you have provided, I believe you have grounds to be concerned about his mental health around your child and it may be in your daughter's best interest to contact the Department of Children's Services so they can investigate his behavior. Such an investigation could result in the Department taking action that would alter the current visitation schedule.

Q:

How can I let my husband, whom I left, see the children with the guarantee he will return them?

We separated and he really wants to see them and they want to see him. But I know he can keep them if I drop them off. what kind of document do I need to have so he has to return them

A:

The best way to ensure that he does return with the children is to establish a parenting plan which will define the visitation schedule and allow you to seek judicial intervention should he violate the plan by not bringing them back when his parenting time has concluded. If you are not already pursuing a divorce, a petition would need to be filed with the Court. If you are pursuing a divorce you can have a Temporary Parenting Plan put in place either by agreement of the parties, mediation or by court order.

The same is true if you are only separated but the court would need to be made aware of the legal separation. While you and the other parent are primarily responsible for deciding what type of visitation schedule is established, you would need an attorney to advise you further on the legal requirements and handle the filing of the petition or divorce complaint. Good Luck.

Q:

Visitation

During the summer months, my ex & I rotate every 2 weeks until school starts back. After that, we rotate every other weekend for visits. I need to know how to go about finding out which weekend I get my daughter back after school starts back.

A:

When you and your ex established the custody arrangement you should have executed what is called a Permanent Parenting Plan or PPP. The PPP should outline the custody and visitation schedule in detail. So, check your PPP and see what it says about the end of the summer visitation schedule.