Practice Areas

DIVORCE: 

Divorce or the dissolution of a domestic partnership involves issues that must be addressed for your own welfare. It is critical you are aware of how, what, when, and why, these issues can affect your future. Choosing an experienced Lawyer, who understands the nuances of Tennessee Law, will make confronting such issues as child custody, support, and the division of property, easier for you. Do not be misled into thinking that a divorce is a simple piece of paper. Divorce requires meticulous detail by your attorney to ensure the best possible outcome.

At the Barnett Firm in Knoxville, Tennessee, we practice Family Law exclusively and are committed to our clients during this emotional time. Divorce can be stressful, confusing, and contentious, even when custody or support are not in dispute. We are here to help guide you through this confusing process. Our clients rely on our knowledge, advice, and compassion to get them through a complicated situation. Our main goal is to ensure the well-being of our clients and their children. Your best interest is our best interest. We are fierce advocates for all our clients.

These are the main issues in Divorce:

  • Division of community property, debt, and business interests
  • Property, such as the family home or additional vacation property, including time shares.
  • Child Custody
  • Child Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Alimony / Spousal Support
  • Prenuptial agreement, if any
    (even if there is a Prenuptial in place, it may not be valid. Call our office for further details)

We advise you as to which direction is best suited for you, as not every situation is the same. Some people falsely believe that “their” friend’s experience will be similar to their own. While most people share the same stresses and emotions in a Divorce, your situation is unique. We work tirelessly in achieving a favorable solution for you and your child(ren).
Feel free to contact our office and make arrangements for a consultation. We welcome your call and will treat each inquiry seriously and with strict confidentiality.

CONTESTED DIVORCE: 

A contested divorce is when both parties do NOT agree on the terms of the divorce. More often than not, issues such as child custody, restraining orders, business appraisal, and the like, cannot be resolved. In order to achieve a resolution, you may need counsel who will aggressively negotiate complex issues on your behalf to reach a final solution. Sometimes, these issues are rather simple, yet one party is unreasonable. We help unravel the complications and any irrationalities. You may possibly need to go to trial for there to be a final resolution, though this is rare and exceptional and, should it go that far, rest assured we have vast trial experience.

The Barnett Firm will work with you closely to ensure optimal resolution in defending your rights as a parent, fighting for an appropriate child custody and visitation agreement, and protecting your financial interests long term.

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE: 

An Uncontested Divorce means that both parties agree to the terms of the divorce. This process may be simplified in that Tennessee as  “No Fault” provision exist meaning the court uses the notion of “irreconcilable differences” in issuing a judgment. You have already agreed to such issues as property division, child custody, and spousal support, if any.

Hiring an experienced attorney to draft an agreement to finalize the divorce will ensure you have covered all the essential areas for final resolution.

LEGAL SEPARATION: 

This action can be filed by a married person who wishes to maintain the marital status but separate and resolve all of other issues of the marriage. The Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of the minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, and confirm or award community and separate property assets and debts. If the other party, Respondent, responds to the paperwork and requests a dissolution of marriage, the Court will grant the dissolution of marriage.

Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the Respondent must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the legal separation proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court’s signature.

ANNULMENTS: 

This action can be filed by a married person to restore the parties to the status of unmarried persons, as if they were never married. Certain conditions must be met before the Court will consider the marriage as void or voidable. Regardless of how the case proceeds, the Petitioner, the person who initiated the case, will have the burden to prove to the Court that one of the conditions for nullity has been met before the Court will grant the nullity of marriage. The Court can also issue orders regarding property and debt division, custody and support.

CHILD CUSTODY / VISITATION: 

Child Custody can be complicated and emotional. In addition to deciding custody, there are numerous issues that parents often overlook, such as agreeing to take the children out of state for a vacation. Did you know that, depending on what your custody agreement is, you may or may not have the right to take your child out of state, even if for a day without express approval from the other parent? Knowing your rights as a parent will help you come to an agreement that protects your rights and that of your child(ren)’s.

At the Barnett Firm, we work not only with our clients, but the opposing counsel, opposing party, minor’s counsel (if any), and any other third party, in creating a custody arrangement that is suitable to you that also serves as the best interests of your child. The children are a main concern and focal point of our services. We fight rigorously for both you and your child(ren).

Tennessee Courts require that both parents have the opportunity to maintain a strong relationship with a child. The exception to this rule is “unless one parent is unfit.” You will most likely benefit from having counsel whichever side you find yourself in. You may find yourself having to advocate for you innocent child and obtain a court order for a custody/visitation to be modified due to a grave concern of unfit parenting. Or you may be the parent who finds yourself with supervised visitations, only you may have inadvertently waived your rights to something you did not understand, thereby relinquishing your rights as a parent temporarily. We recognize that every situation is unique, and sometimes there are true allegations as well as false ones. We also recognize the need to counseling to better oneself to ultimately become a better parent. We are here to help fight for you and your child. Your child(ren)’s best interest in the main concern.

CHILD SUPPORT: 

Before parents can address the issue of child support, there must be anunderlying action. If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, nullity or file the petition for custody and support of minor children’s action. If the parents are unmarred, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children. There is no legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other until there is a Court order. A Court order is obtained by requesting a hearing.

Once an underlying action has been filed, the Court can address the issue of Child support in the underlying action. Further discussion of child support can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action.

The amount of child support paid is determined by using a very specific formula that imputes income and parenting time of both parties. This can be tricky when income imputing income, and the Courts will determine what qualifies as income. We are diligent and thorough in calculating income, taking into account a variety of factors that are often overlooked by attorneys and either party. Contact our office to discuss the specifics of your case.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT: 

Spousal support can be tricky. Tennessee family laws can be imprecise when ordering spousal support subsequent to the divorce. Generally the amount of alimony is dependent upon several factors and can be divided into these categories:

  • Length of marriage
  • Roles the spouses played to support each other
  • Current Earning capacity of both parties
  • Further earning capacity of both parties
  • Contributions made toward the education of the supporting party
  • Debts and assets of both parties
  • Standard of Living

If spousal support is at issue, either during the divorce process or because there needs to be a modification, it is our responsibility and desire to ensure you have an equitable arrangement. An experienced lawyer will take into account a variety of factors to come up with a settlement that is in your best interest, whichever side you’re on of the alimony issue.

Contact us and we will explain the complexities of the process, and advise you as to how the courts will likely view your situation. The  Barnett Firm is known for its effective, well-defined, skilled, creative and clever aptitude in determining support.

MODIFICATIONS OF SUPPORT: 

Tennessee courts recognize that financial situations change. It is not enough to simply ask the other party if it’s okay to modify the support because without a court order, you will be held liable for arrears.

If your circumstances have changed and you can no longer meet your original support obligations, contact our office immediately for a consult.

It is possible to obtain a modification if changes have occurred:

  • Loss of income, due to a reduction in work hours, laid-off, termination, or disability
  • Your child(ren) have moved out of the jurisdiction, and your time has been affected
  • The original percentage of parenting time has been altered
  • Health care considerations of your child
  • An increase / decrease of income of either party, affecting the child’s welfare

Modifications can also be sought from the party who pays support, if he or she has an increase in income. Contact our office to discuss your specific situation.

PATERNITY ACTION: 

This action is filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who have minor children together. Through this action, the Court will determine paternity (or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor children), and make custody and visitation as well as child support orders.

Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the other party, Respondent, must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request the entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the paternity proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court’s signature.

Paternity law can become extremely complex, particularly when custody and child support are primary issues. It can be emotional and contentious. Paternity issues involving minor children are usually sensitive in nature, regardless of whether custody is in dispute. There are numerous factors to consider when dealing with paternity actions. We are here to help guide you through this. Please choose an attorney who has expertise in handling this kind of action. An experienced attorney with compassion and dedication makes all the difference.

Contact our office to discuss your specific circumstances.

FATHER’S RIGHTS: 

Did you know that a parent’s time with their child is not solely based on  the amount of support given or received?

As a father, you must be aware of your rights before you waive them inadvertently. It is vital you speak to a family law attorney who will inform you of your rights as a father.

Generations ago, Tennessee Law favored the mother. Often times, fathers were left out of their child(ren)’s lives. Today, the role of fathers have changed dramatically. You are entitled to the same rights of the mother. Please contact us or any other Family Law Attorney who will fight for you rights, regardless of gender.

It is not uncommon for a father to have not been married to the mother of their children. Likely, they simply need an attorney to establish their parental rights.

If you have ever experienced:

  • Being denied contact with your child
  • Facing false allegations, i.e., domestic violence or some form of abuse
  • Threatened that you will never see your child again
  • Threatened that your child will move out of state or country
  • A financial need to modify a child support order
  • A desire to know whether a child is biologically yours
  • A desire to have more time with your child
  • Parental Alienation

If you have experienced any of the above, or something else not mentioned in this overview, you need to consult with an attorney right away. Whether you choose the Law Office of Benjamin Barnett or not, you will need someone to advocate on your behalf.

Your parenting time with the children is based on your availability and what the best interests are of the children. Many fathers now take control of custody. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us to ensure you do not lose out on your parental rights. Even if you find yourself in a position of part time father, we can help establish a firm arrangement so that you do not lose out in visiting your child.

Contact an experienced Family Law attorney who will fiercely advocate for your rights.

RESTRAINING ORDERS: 

We’ve been handling the highly volatile and sensitive matters associated with child and spousal abuse for the past ten years.  When immediate legal protection is required in the form of restraining orders of protection, we have the networks, processes, and credibility required to act now.  Call us today, and let us act on behalf of you and your children.  Don’t wait.  We’ll work on building a strong case while you work on rebuilding your life.

Domestic violence disputes are highly contentious and can have severe consequences for all parties. When you are a victim of domestic violence or have been accused of abuse or neglect in the home, it is important to seek trusted legal representation to protect your rights. At the  Barnett Firm, our family attorneys combine experience, skill and compassionate advocacy to protect your rights.

Advocacy for every client. Solutions to protect your rights. Call 865-474-0128 or contact us by e-mail to arrange an initial consultation with a Knox and surrounding counties restraining order lawyer.

Civil Harassment: 

A person who has suffered harassment may seek a civil harassment protective order. Harassment is defined as:

  1. Unlawful violence.
  2. A credible threat of violence or
  3. A knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person and that serves no legitimate purpose.

The restraining order can include restraints on personal conduct by the batterer, order the batterer to stay away from the victim’s home/work and/or children’s school, and other miscellaneous orders. There is no requirement that there be a relationship between the victim and a batterer in order to obtain the protective order. There must, however, be recent acts of harassment.

Domestic Violence: 

A restraining order is a Court order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by a batterer. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
  4. Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.

The act(s) of abuse/violence must be recent, within thirty days, and the batterer must be a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, someone with whom the victim has or has had a dating relationship, an immediate family member (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children), or a person with whom a party has a child/ren together. A victim that is a target of abuse but does not have the necessary relationship to the batterer may file a civil harassment restraining order.

The restraining order can include the following: restraints on personal conduct by the batterer; orders for the batterer to stay-away from the victim’s home/work and/or children’s school; orders for the batterer to be removed from the residence; child custody and visitation and support orders and other miscellaneous orders.

CONTEMPT ACTIONS: 

A Contempt Action is bringing or defending an action for non-payment of child support or other violations of a court order.

We will help you to enforce Court Orders.

COLLECTION & ENFORCEMENT: 

If you have child or spousal support arrears, we can help collect and enforce the Court’s Order. Contact us for further information.

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