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Chattanooga Tennessee Legal Blog

Holiday transitions after a divorce

When Tennessee parents decide to divorce, the winter holidays can be an especially difficult time for all members of the family. This is particularly true when the divorce or separation is fresh as family members have had little chance to accustom themselves to the changes in family circumstances. Both parents and children may face emotional fallout during the holidays after a divorce, but parents can act to make the experience better for their children.

Both parents should be careful to put their children first during the holidays, especially soon after a divorce. Time with the kids during the holidays is not an occasion to spar with a former spouse. Instead, it can be an occasion to put aside issues between the adults in order to be generous to the kids. Parents can seek comfort from their friends or a therapist to allow them to vent their own emotions about the situation while protecting their children.

Hours of service rules blamed for rise in truck accident deaths

The number of road users killed in motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks in Tennessee and around the country rose by a worrying 9 percent to 4,761 in 2017 according to figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is the highest commercial vehicle accident death toll in almost three decades, and a number of logistics industry groups say that federal hours of service regulations are partly to blame.

Hours of service rules are designed to prevent accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers, but opponents of the regulations say that they make the roads more dangerous when semi drivers drive recklessly and exceed posted speed limits to work around the regulations. The rules require truck drivers to end their shifts after 11 hours and take a 30-minute rest after eight hours on the road, and it is the mandatory rest that industry groups say is causing the most problems.

Financial pitfalls to avoid during a divorce

Divorce is often a time of upheaval and great emotional stress during which spouses are expected to make a series of important financial decisions. The choices made during alimony and property division negotiations can cast long shadows, but divorcing couples in Tennessee who approach these matters dispassionately and listen to the advice of their attorneys, accountants and financial planners may be able to avoid some common pitfalls.

The tax implications of divorce are often overlooked during heated negotiations over assets. Retirement accounts are sometimes plundered to get the money needed to secure a quick settlement, but few experts would suggest doing this as it can leave people financially unprepared for their golden years and facing stiff IRS penalties. Taking retirement benefits upfront after obtaining a qualified domestic relations order can also be a mistake when it pushes people into a higher tax bracket and increases their overall tax bill.

Did you think about college when making plans about the children?

If you have children, they may be at the center of your divorce. You may concentrate all your efforts on making sure that the coming lifestyle changes go as smoothly as possible for them and that they continue to have access to each parent as much as possible.

Perhaps you feel as though you covered all of the bases, especially for the short term and the near future. However, you may need to take it one step further and consider what happens when each child reaches college age. Nowadays, many states want you to think about college tuition and even make some sort of arrangements for it when you divorce.

Couples who live together may not last

Some scientists say that the premarital cohabitation effect is not a real phenomenon. However, new research says that Tennessee couples could be impacted by it over the long-term. According to the authors of the study, cohabitation before marriage offers a benefit for the first year of marriage. However, it becomes a factor in whether a couple divorces each year thereafter. Other research concluded that this impact would be negated as cohabitation became more common and accepted.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in September, also found that divorce may be even more likely for those who had lived with previous partners. According to a Barna Trends 2017 report, 57 percent of those surveyed said that they had lived with a partner or were currently doing so. Furthermore, 65 percent of those surveyed said that they thought that cohabitation was a good idea.

Traffic deaths down in 2017 despite jump in fatal truck accidents

Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians had a somewhat safer year on the roads of Tennessee according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After worrisome increases in traffic deaths nationwide in 2015 and 2016, fatalities went down by almost 2 percent in 2017. Drops in deadly passenger car, motorcycle or pedestrian accidents contributed to the improvement, but the number of deadly truck accidents actually went up, and urban areas have surpassed rural areas in traffic deaths.

Data collected by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 2017 showed a 5.8 percent increase in deaths arising from wrecks that involved SUVs or tractor-trailers. Deadly accidents involving large trucks that were not necessarily commercial vehicles jumped a significant 18.7 percent in 2017.

Gray divorce can lead to health issues

Many Tennessee estranged couples know that divorce can be extremely stressful for people of all ages. However, research suggests that ending a marriage can be especially hard on people at or over the age of 50, causing a number of physical and psychological issues.

Divorce among older Americans has doubled over the last three decades, with people between the ages of 50 and 64 being the most likely to part ways. Experts say there are many reasons behind this phenomenon, including an increased life expectancy for U.S. adults, financial autonomy for women and society's changing expectations of marriage.

Drivers' ed supplements and how they affect teen behavior

Tennessee residents with teenage children who have just learned to drive may be interested to know about a certain Baylor University study. Researchers focused on the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program, a supplemental drivers' education program, and its effect on teens' risk awareness and driving behavior.

Twenty-one teens participated in the program, some of them because a school administrator or court referred them to it for disciplinary action. The majority said in a questionnaire that they had called or texted behind the wheel between six and nine times in the previous 30 days.

Attorneys say prenups are on the rise

Millennials in Tennessee may be seeking prenuptial agreements in higher numbers than couples from previous generations. In the past, prenups were mostly associated with celebrities and other wealthy people, but in more recent years, that has changed. A survey by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers found that almost two-thirds of attorneys reported an increase in prenups over the last three years, and about half said more millennials were seeking them.

Prenuptial agreements can be a difficult subject to raise. However, it can be a way for couples to talk about finances and ensure that they are in agreement. Couples with a high net worth may have complex finances to deal with, but even couples with less money may benefit from a prenup. One significant issue for millennials is debt. Student loan debt in particular is a problem for some millennials, and a prenup can help ensure that neither has to take on the debts of the other.

How do I know if I should end my marriage?

For some couples, marriage seems to be a breeze. They may finish each other's thoughts or anticipate each other in a way that shows they are compatible and that they communicate well. Perhaps you are not so fortunate. Whether you have been married for decades or are relatively new at it, you may be growing weary of the situation, especially if the hard times outweigh the joy.

You may know couples who have remained together and worked out their differences, some couples who struggled unhappily all their lives, and others who cut their losses and filed for divorce. Which one will you be? How will you know when it is no longer reasonable to remain in your marriage?

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