Kane & Crowell

The official blog of Kane & Crowell, a Lebanon, Tennessee Law Office.

What to Expect When Going to Court

What to Expect When Going to Court

Going to Court can seem scary to those who have never been. Hopefully these tips will help alleviate some of your fears.

What to Wear?

This is one of the biggest questions that our clients ask if they have never been to Court. When you are thinking about what to wear to Court, you want to think of it as if you were going to a job interview. You want the Judge to know that you respect the Courtroom and that you think this process is important.

For men, it is not necessary to wear a suit but, of course, you can wear one if you want to. Men should usually wear a button-down shirt with dress slacks and nice shoes. For women, it is appropriate to wear a nice shirt with slacks, a suit, or a nice dress.

What to Bring?

You are not allowed to bring your cell phone, iPad, or laptop with you in the courtroom, so please leave them in your car when you come. You can bring your notes or a legal pad to write on if you want to take notes during the hearing.

Inside the Courtroom

You and your attorney will usually go into the courtroom together. Our office is located right across the street from the courthouse, and our Attorneys will usually walk to Court with you. If it is a day that other cases are being heard, you want to be sure to be respectful during those hearings. When it is time for your case to be heard, the Judge will call the parties and their attorneys up. The Judge will be in the middle of the courtroom sitting on the bench. You will sit on one side of the courtroom with your attorney, and the opposing party will be on the other side with their attorney. Please always be sure you are respectful to the Judge, as well as the other attorney if they are asking you questions. You should also be aware of your body language while in the courtroom. The Judge will be watching you at all times, so try not to make it known if you are frustrated (easier said than done of course).

After Court

Even if you have paid close attention during the hearing, you may still be wondering “what just happened” after Court. Your Attorney will explain to you what all happened, what the Judge decided, and what the next steps are after your hearing. You may even have questions in the days to follow the hearing, so be sure to follow up with your Attorney until you fully understand what happened in Court.

The Attorneys at Kane & Crowell Family Law Center have more than two decades of experience and are in Court daily. The most important advice we can give you is to listen to our advice and ask questions if you do not understand. Our Attorneys and staff can make an anxious situation much, much easier.

If you are filing for divorce, have a custody situation, a probate matter, or need a will or trust, contact us at www.kane-law.com or by phone at (615) 784-4800. We handle cases in Wilson County, Sumner County, Trousdale County, Macon County, Smith County, and Rutherford County and are happy to our experience at work for you.

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Conservatorships and Caring for Disabled Persons

        A 2017 study of Americans published on Bloomberg.com cited that 25% of Americans ages 58-60 surveyed considered themselves in “poor” or “fair” health1.  The study further cited that 11% of this same age group suffered from some form of dementia or cognitive decline1.  This age group falls directly within the demographic of “baby boomers”, those Americans born between 1946 and 1964.  Current estimates establish that 10,000 baby boomers are retiring per day in the United States2

       The realism of these statistics is that most of us have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and even friends of this age, who may be experiencing health issues related with aging.  Proper estate planning, including having an adequate Will and Powers of Attorney, is the best way to protect one’s interests as they grow older.  However, what happens if a person becomes mentally or physically disabled, and is no longer able to manage their affairs, without proper estate planning in place? 

       Tennessee law provides for such individuals to be granted a conservatorship.  In a conservatorship proceeding, a third-party petitioner files a petition with a court highlighting the circumstances surrounding the disabled person’s disability and their relationship with the disabled person.  Generally, the petitioner/prospective conservator is a relative of the disabled person; however, the law allows any individual who has not been sentenced to prison to serve as a conservator.  As a part of the conservatorship filing, the disabled party must be examined by a doctor and determined to be disabled and unable to properly manage their affairs.  The petitioner must also give notice to the disabled person, and their closest relatives of the conservatorship request in the event they wish to contest it. 

       A court will also usually appoint a neutral attorney, called a guardian ad litem to act as an investigator for the court to determine whether the disabled person is truly disabled and needs a conservator.  The guardian ad litem will often speak with the disabled person, as well as the petitioner and render a report as to whether a conservatorship is merited.  The Court ultimately makes the determination if a conservatorship is warranted. 

       A conservator, once appointed, may manage the property of a disabled person.  However, the conservator is deemed a fiduciary of the disabled person and must file an initial inventory of the disabled person’s property.  Additionally, the conservator must file periodic accountings of the disabled person’s property.  The conservator also may be liable for wrongful actions or failing to file timely reports while acting as conservator. 

       If you are concerned about a family member or friend’s ability to manage their affairs, call Amanda Crowell at (615) 449-4848 to discuss conservatorships.

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1: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-23/americans-are-retiring-later-dying-sooner-and-sicker-in-between

2: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/032216/are-we-baby-boomer-retirement-crisis.asp

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Can I have my Marriage Annulled?

Can I have my Marriage Annulled?

I am frequently contacted by potential clients who tell me that they have only been married for a short period – maybe a few days or a few weeks. They do not want to have to go through the divorce process and wonder if they can have their marriage annulled instead. 

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Can a parent voluntarily give up all rights to his or her child?

Can a parent voluntarily give up all rights to his or her child?

I often have a parent (usually a mother) contact me and state that the other parent wants to give up his rights to his child and have no more obligations to that child. Can a parent voluntarily give up all rights to his or her child? The answer is not a simple one. If the parent has been established as the biological or legal parent of a child, that parent cannot simply relinquish his parental rights so that he or she no longer has a duty of support.

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Do I have to agree to divide parenting time 50-50 with my soon-to-be former spouse?

Do I have to agree to divide parenting time 50-50 with my soon-to-be former spouse?

Recent revisions to the divorce laws in Tennessee require the courts to attempt to maximize the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child or children in fashioning a parenting plan. Sometimes the judge will decide that this means that a 50-50 division of time will accomplish this goal; however, there are many factors that a judge must take into account in determining a parenting schedule, and the most important is always the best interests of the child. You do not have to agree to any division of parenting time that you do not believe is in your child or children’s best interests. A good divorce attorney can help you determine what is likely to happen in court based upon the circumstances of your case, your children’s specific needs, and the usual preferences of the judge who will ultimately decide your matter.

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