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William Jones Law Firm Blog - Big Latin Words Blog

A Word On Communications

A recent article in the wall street journal stated that new graduates from law school have a 50-50 chance of landing a career in the legal field within their first nine months.  The starting salary for a lawyer in a small firm setting has decreased by 35% since 2009.  The reason is simple, the economy has finally caught up with the profession and the demand for lawyers is simply down.  


Almost 11 years ago I broke into the legal world, and at the time I would take any case that I could get my hands on.  I started out in Memphis working for a real estate attorney, who really didn’t need a young attorney, but who was kind enough to give me a chance.  I handled a dog bite, a slip and fall, and even a case of an employer giving an employee a wedgie.  Proud moments in my legal career.  As I progressed, like most, I narrowed my field of practice and began to focus on Family Law.  In time, I saw that bankruptcy is often a helpful or unforeseen consequence of family law, so in order to better serve clients, we began taking on more bankruptcy cases.  Even back then, like most attorneys today, I was struggling for clients.   However in 2006 something phenomenal happened, something that would change the fortune of my family and my career forever.  Drake and Zeke, the morning Dj’s for 98.1 the max were giving away a divorce for valentine day and they were having difficulty locating an attorney to perform the deed.  One of my best friends just happened to be a relative of Zeke, so with a days notice, I agreed to perform the legal duties for the contest in exchange for some on air plugs.  For the first year, I received two paying clients because of my association with the duo.  As time marched on Drake and Zeke were kind enough to read my emails on air, and use me for personal work, and eventually to give me a monthly segment.  Around the third year, I noticed something.  I was receiving a good number of phone calls and Ask Lawyer Bill emails.  My little business was on the rise.  


I knew that we were in a down real estate market, so I went looking for a deal and I found one and purchased the building we currently practice out of in east memphis.  I also found a small real estate title company in North Mississippi that was going out of business and bought various and assorted furniture.  But what I was really proud of was the phone system that I bought from this now defunct title company.  It had six lines and 10 handsets.  It was an executive phone system that was state of the art in 1987.   What I was so proud of back then, is now an embarrassment, and the reason for this post.  


I mention the facts about the current state of the legal field, and my own history to say that I realize how blessed we have been.   How lucky we are to be a firm that is constantly being inundated with communications.  I want both our clients and our listeners to know that I have heard concerns and I have taken decisive action to correct any shortcomings we have in this area.  


I want to take a moment to acknowledge that we have fallen short of our promises as of late to our clients.  We have done so by failing to upgrade our equipment and acknowledge the fact that we have grown from a solo practitioner to a small firm.  We have been trying to maintain a twitter account, Facebook page, youtube page, blog sections, personal cell phone calls, office calls, emails, text and faxes, and haven't succeeded at doing a great job at any of them because we’ve just been spread thin.  Being spread thin is manageable for a while, but two major events have sparked the changes that we are undertaking.  First, I recently became aware that our voicemail has been malfunctioning for quite some time.  The system has gotten progressively worse and has now gotten to the point that we are unable to even check to see if we have voice messages.  This has naturally created both some concern and dissatisfaction from our clients, and our contemporaries.   Second, a personal friend recently asked me why I had failed to respond to an email.  I wan’t even aware that she had emailed me.  Our email  has so many filters applied that in many cases emails that should be received are being forwarded to spam or junk.  I want our clients and listeners to know that our staff is doing the best they can, but I have failed to give them the tools they need to succeed and to fulfill our clients expectations.  All of that changes starting today.  


Starting July 18th, we will be completely revamping both our telephone and our email system.  We have gone to great expense to obtain a brand new state of the art system that will allow us to not only speak with you, but in many cases schedule video consultations.  I have a tracking number that shows our new system will arrive before the close of business on Thursday, the 19th.  We will slowly make the transition over the course of the next 10 days with the hopes that you do not notice any difference, or if you do, it is an improvement.  The system will allow us to quickly direct your call to the person that can best answer your question or schedule your appointment.  Each individual will have their own extension and their own personal voicemail as opposed to the one non functioning general voice mailbox we have now. These messages will then be emailed or texted to the recipient.    The one sacrifice that we struggled with was when you initially call, you will be greeted by an automated system, but we have made it where the press of a button will get you to a live person, keeping you on the phone with HAL for as brief as possible.  We have simply grown to the point where we felt this small  downside was worth the benefits.


Our next phase will be to revamp our emails and our filtering system.  As of the time of this post, I personally have 5 different email accounts which contain a total of 483 emails.  Many of which are solicitations, junk or offers to receive an inheritance from a sheik.  In order to assist us in quickly responding to your emails we will be implementing the following changes over the next month:

  1. Emails from persons not in our system will be filtered to junk.
  2. It is imperative that clients keep us advised of their current email address.
  3. Attorneys and Courtroom personal will generally be in our system, however, please let us know of any change in your email address.
  4. All persons not in our contacts will receive a auto generated notice letting them know their email was not received and how they should contact us.
  1. Ask Lawyer Bill emails will continue to operate in the same fashion they always have and will not be filtered to spam.  These emails will be reviewed as quickly as we can accommodate them.  Understand however, on days I appear on the show, we receive a substantial number of correspondence and it can take us several days to respond.  If you have an urgent matter, we strongly suggest that you call and schedule an appointment as opposed to waiting for a response.  


A word about emails in general:  Email was created to be a substitution for mail.  It was designed to transmit documents that could be responded to with a letter or for eliminating the cost of sending copies.  Over time it has morphed into something else entirely that is a cross between a letter, a  phone call and a text.  The problem occurs when you and I have different expectations as to how quickly you should receive a response to an email.  You may check your account frequently throughout the day and expect a response in an hour or less, whereas another individual may believe a response in a day is appropriate.  To further compound this problem, we often receive multiple emails back to back from the same individual, each containing different portions of the same stream of consciousness.  It would greatly assist us in responding if you could endeavor to send a single email that contains all attachments, comments or questions.  


In order to be clear and set expectations, I generally check email once or twice a week.  In part this is because of the volume that we currently receive, and perhaps once the filtering system is put in place that will change, but for now, unless I know to look for an email, this is my response time.  In light of this, I generally will not respond to a “text style” email.  Nor will I respond with a novel when a  five minute conversation would accomplish the same goal.  In my mind, email is still what it was generally intended to be, a substitution for mail.  If you have different expectations, please let us know.  If you send us something pressing or urgent, I would strongly advise calling us to let us know to look for it.    


Again, I want to sincerely apologize for any lapse in communication that any of our clients or listeners have suffered over the past month and assure you that we have invested a great deal of time and money to resolving this problem.  We look forward to continuing to provide you with the same level of service that you have come to expect over the last seven years, and assisting you with all of your legal needs.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me, just gimme a day or two to figure out how to transfer a call on our new phones.  

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The Most Difficult Part Is Getting Started.

This Month, Associate Attorney Arthur Byrd, fresh off of several big Courtroom wins, gives us his thoughts on his chosen career, challenges, experience, and the value of determination.
As a young attorney, the daily commute and work week comes with a gluttony of questions on a fairly regular basis. If I ever thought that 7 years of school would prepare me for everything I would encounter each day in this job, I was sadly mistaken. While I may have learned the law over the course of my schooling, this job comes with a list of requirements far greater than simply reciting statutes and case law.
I don't say these things to give the impression that being an attorney is an overwhelmingly burdensome job, or to insinuate that my chosen career path is of elevated importance as compared to others. In fact, the alternative may be true. I feel very fortunate and very blessed to do this job. My work day comes with scenarios and dilemmas that are entirely different than the day before. It is anything but the daily grind. In short, this job is exciting, which is something I am well aware that not everyone can say.
The byproduct, of course, is that aforementioned gluttony of questions. What's the appropriate motion or petition to file? When do I get a raise? And one of my favorites the day before my first exactly do I conduct a trial? (We won, and yes I'm slightly bragging). But the most difficult and most frequently recurring question, in some shape or form, is how do I stand in the same courtroom as the Perry Mason standing next to me? How do I gain equal footing with a woman or man that dwarfs me in experience? It is without a doubt the question that has caused me to lose the most sleep at night.
This is a competitive profession full of competitive individuals, and I am no different. I am a less than adequate golfer, but I will play until my hands bleed. And it's not for love of the game, by any stretch. It's because there's no way I can't do something that so many others can. If I'm lucky enough on a given weekend to round up enough teams to play corn-hole in the backyard, it may as well be scheduled as a 6 hour event, because win or lose, I always want to play one more game. I can spend an entire evening reading motivational quotes, or spend the morning watching fight scenes from Rocky, and somehow feel like it was time well spent. I, quite simply, have a thirst for competition, as I'm sure all lawyers do (although I won't pigeon-hole anyone and say the profession as a whole has as many screws loose as me). I am either very exciting or very irritating to live with, depending on your point of view.
But neither law school nor watching Rocky Balboa fight Ivan Drago provide me with the experience to match attorney's practicing 10, 20, or 30 years. It is a shortcoming that can only be changed with time, and the only way to get through time is to wait for it. It is not, however, a shortcoming that cannot be offset. As previously stated, I am not yet arrogant enough to believe that this job or the degree on my wall came with entitlement. The secret to success is no different than that of a businessman, an athlete, or a contractor. To excel, I have to work. If I want to catch up to the more experienced, I have to work harder than the more experienced. It's not a burden unique to me. It's life. The same holds true for anyone with a real desire to be successful.
I have recognized and come to terms with the fact that if I want to succeed at this competition, I have to put in more preparation than the person sitting across from me. There may come a day when that requirement is unnecessary, but I hope it's a mindset that never goes away. For now, as each day comes, as each hearing comes, and as each case comes, I will continue to forego hours of sleep for each. Because after all, the most difficult part of any job is getting started.

Request Income Information

Today is the day when employers across the nation are attempting to complete W-2 forms and send them out to employees, so employees can file their taxes.  We all have deadlines that we have to keep, and it is important that we keep up with them.  In a Court setting, if you fail to adhere to a time setting, you can face a possible petition for contempt.  

The Court mandates times that parents must exchange income and expense information each year.  For W-2 and 1099's that date is February 15th.  At times, you may want to look at your child support to determine if your child support is correct.  In order to do this, we offer two ways to help.  The first is a custom form from our office that you can use to request income information from your former spouse.  Remember, pursuant to your divorce, or child support order, you are entitled to see W-2's, 1099's, Income Tax and Child Care Cost information.  The flip side to this is that you must also provide copies to your spouse, so make sure you are doing that at the prescribed times.

To request a copy of this information from your spouse, click here for a request form.  This form is an editable pdf.  Simply click on the first field where it is marked as date, and fill out the remaining information by hitting the tab key or checking the appropriate box.  Make sure to send a copy to our office if you are a client, or save a copy for your own records.  Please note that the use of this form does not create an attorney client relationship and it is designed as an aid only.  In order to hire our office, you will need to set an appointment and retain our services.

The second tool at your disposal is our new child support app, available for download in the itunes store. More to come on that later.  For now, download the form and send your co-parent a copy of your information and request the same. 

How Did Walt Disney Help Your Divorce?



Walt Disney was a genius. You can see it in everything that this now global billion dollar company lays hands on. But it wasn't alway that way. DisneyLand opened on July 17th, 1955 to a crowd of some 30,000 invited guest and the event had so many troubles and malfunctions, it is still to this day referred to as "Black Sunday". One of the resolutions to the problems of this day is what we now refer to as "Queueing". If you have ever been to Disneyland or DisneyWorld, then you have paid untold amounts of money to visit a former swamp, in sweltering heat, surrounded by every communicable disease known to man, overpriced food and beverages, all to stand in line for 30min-2hrs. and take a 10 minute amusement park ride. It seems strange, but the strangest part is that you are happy about doing it. There are a number of ways that Disney makes you happy with your purchase, but one of the main ways is Queueing, or providing you with an estimate of your time in line. Queuing works because as human begins: 1. time passes slower when we aren't doing anything. (you've no doubt experienced this at work or in a doctors waiting room.) 2. Knowing that activity is occurring makes waiting shorter than wondering if activity is occurring. (this is why Doctors give family members updates during surgery) 3. Anxiety makes everything including waiting, seem to last longer. 4. A finite known wait time doesn't seem as long as a unknown wait time. (A watched pot of waiter never boils) 5. Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits. 6. If the payoff is good enough, it is worth the wait.


Disney decided to combat this problem by posting a sign at the beginning of each line that tells you approximately how long it will be until you reach your ride. Guest are then greeted each step of the line with updates letting them know how much further they must go until they reach their turn on Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean. In doing so Disney has addressed criteria number 4 by telling the customer how long they must wait. The Customer can then decide whether to stand in line, knowing from the beginning, they will wait at least X amount of time. Throughout the line, Disney offers music, and updates on expected wait times, meeting both criteria 1 and 2. The key though to Disney's Queueing strategy is that rarely does the guest wait the listed amount of time. In most cases the guest is told they will wait 45 minutes, and in less than 15 minutes they arrive at a sign letting them know they have another 30 minutes to wait. Five minutes thereafter they are alerted that they are 15 minutes away, and five minutes after that, they embark on their ride, turning what they thought was a 45 minute wait into an actual 20 minute wait, meeting criteria 5.


When I first began as a legal clerk in a criminal law firm, I remember my then boss, John Colette telling me that he overheard me speaking with a client and that while I handled them very nicely, there was no way he could deliver on what I promised. Later, in my first year of practicing law, I encountered the same problem on a child support modification, where the client wanted to decrease his child support. I looked at the best case scenario and told him we could reduce his child support by $800.00 if we were successful. It felt great to offer that type of help, and it without a doubt encouraged him to hire the firm I was with at the time. The client was happy in the consult, but outraged when it was reduced by a mere $300.00. I hadn't set my clients expectations. I wanted to please him and offer help and earn his business. Now realistically, I helped the client, he did get a reduction, but because his expectations weren't set correctly, he didn't see it as a win, and I'm certain that he has done his part to make sure all his friends know what a sub par job he thought I did. I decided then and there, a policy change was in order. Trying to please clients or for that matter anyone that ask's us for help is a natural instinct for mankind. It however is only effective if done correctly.

After a trip to Disney, I decided to convert and implement the queueing strategy into my own law practice. From day one in our consultations we set the clients expectations for what would in our opinion be the worst possible outcome for the case. We make the outcome as realistic as we can, regardless of how unjust, blunt or undesirable that might be. In doing so, we are setting expectations for what we feel is the worst outcome for the case. I have found over time that rarely is the outcome of the case as dire as we relay it in our consultations. The result is that our clients are happy with the results, and as a unexpected but pleasant bi-product, we look like geniuses. Throughout the process, we send correspondence and links to "client only" pages on our website to let them know where they stand. This again helps eliminate some of the uncertainty and allows us to update or modify our opinion of the case. If we are creating a document, we invite clients into the office to view the creation of their pleadings on a 55inch computer monitor. By having our clients read and participate in the creation of pleadings, there is never a question as to the authenticity of an invoice, and our clients have a keen insight into the contents of their documents and the strategy and goals behind its creation. We give homework assignments in our "client only form" section. We know that clients are going to think about their case as much if not more than we will, so why not focus some of that energy and at the same time, assist us in preparing drafts of discovery information.  

We may tell you its an hour wait, but we are trying everything we can to get you there in five minutes. If we can, I'm certain you will be pleased with our representation, and if you must in fact wait an hour, you knew from day one it was a likelihood. By having updates and including you in the process, we make the wait time a little more tolerable.

We pride ourselves on giving you an honest opinion of your case and not trying to appease you in order to win your business. We are doing everything we can to make certain that your anxiety is lessened, that your time is occupied by helping our office, that we are working or processing your case as fast as we can, and that we are trying to get you a desirous or at least equitable result. Know that everything we do from our initial consults, to our private client phone lines and online guides or video blogs is designed to give you the most valuable asset we can offer, knowledge. Whether we are helping you with a bankruptcy or a divorce, I'm certain it won't feel like a day at Disney, but at least you will know what to expect before the roller coaster begins.

Happy New Year (Tips for DUI's)


Amateur hour is upon us. The one night a year when folks go out to forget about the troubles of the past and look forward to the promises of tomorrow. Some will go to parties in the homes of others, while the more adventurous will head out to bars, taverns and hotels. No matter where you decide to go tonight, be safe. Don't drink and drive. Don't text and drive, and certainly don't text and drink and drive. If you must go out, you may want to think about a taxi or a designated driver.


I took the time to call my good friend and office mate, Attorney extrodinare Patricia Woods. She is the queen of all things DUI and she offered several tips. For one, she tells me that the DUI laws will change at the stroke of midnight tonight and if you blow over a 1.5 or if you are a second offender, your car will sit in an impound lot until you can afford to put a breathalyzer test on your ignition. The rule of thumb according to Ms. Woods is that if you have had anything to drink don't blow. It makes sense, the less evidence they have, the harder it is to prove their case. You should also know that before you are pulled over, camera's inside the squad car are rolling. So don't say anything foolish because you are on candid camera. Be polite, don't cry, don't beg, and certainly don't be rude to the officer who is just doing his job. Keep it short, keep it sweet, be compliant and don't speak when you don't need to. You may have the most magnetic of personalities, but I assure you the officer is not looking to make a new buddy, so don't try. For the love of Pete, don't fall asleep.

Here is a tip a family member learned the hard way. If you aren't the one the officer is talking to, keep your mouth shut. No help is needed here and if you try and come to the defense of your pal, you will end up suffering the same fate.

Remember, you may be the best driver in the world, but if some newbie decides to rear end you, the cops will come and all they need to do is catch a hint of alcohol and then your driving skills will no longer matter.

In closing, have a plan. If you or a friend do go downtown, you can have someone bail you out, but if a plea bargain is struck, you will more than likely have to do some form of jail time so why not get it in when your surrounded by other individuals suffering the same fate. Sleep it off in the confines of 201 Poplar and get your hours in now. When you get out, or if you think about it, when you're going in, have a friend call Patricia, AKA "Pat The Chick Attorney" at (901) 722-8283. I tell clients to put both mine and Pat's number on a card behind their driver's license. She even said she would check her messages in the morning. Name another attorney that will do that on New Years Day. If you do get popped tonight, you will more than likely have your initial setting monday morning. If you don't have either of our number's handy, call us after you request a continuance monday morning. If you call our office, we don't handle DUI's, but we will make sure we get you in touch with Pat. So don't tempt fate, get that card, write 901-761-5353 for us and 901-722-8283 for Pat and put it in your wallet/purse now, then go out and be safe.

Happy New Year, from all of us at THE JONES LAW FIRM.

Check before you Check.

Looking at you spouses email can be a tempting proposition.  The act has the potential to give you the keys to all of the questions that you have been asking.  But if it isn't done correctly, the results can be devastating.  First, check out the recent news story by clicking here.  Then call us, we have worked with software development companies and now have access to state of the art technology that allows us to LEGALLY  gather all the information you could ever need.  If it sounds like something you need, call us today and mention this blog.  We will help you get the dirt your looking for, or you can try it on your own and face the consequences or possibly destroying your golden egg or even facing jail time.


Holiday Visitation

christmasJimmy Stewart's angel made it quite clear that no man that has friends is a failure. Bing Crosby and Danny Kay got the girls, the snow and reunited all their chums from WWII in White Christmas. Even the Griswald's had Cousin Eddie. The point is that Holidays are made for family and friends. When your family setting is less than movie perfect, it can be difficult to enjoy or even tolerate this normally joyous occasion. Each year during the holidays we see an influx of individuals that are for one reason or another unable to spend as much time as they would like with their children because of either a previously created parenting plan, or a pending divorce.


On a personal note, I will say that as a younger attorney (who still to this day enjoys a close bond with his family) I often fell victim to my my sentimental side and did my clients a huge disadvantage. I would run into Court and file an emergency petition for visitation, stating that irreparable harm would occur if my clients didn't get to see the children immediately. In most cases, all i would do is harm my reputation and give my clients unrealistic expectations. A Judge reminded me some years ago that nowhere in our laws does the term Emergency Petition appear. The Court will hear them if we use those terms, but to ask a Court to make a determination on where a child should wake up Christmas mourn without giving the other party, who in most cases has the child, an opportunity to defend their position, the result is generally the same. The Court will set the matter for a hearing in the next month or two.

The point is this, the ability or lack thereof to see ones children during the holidays is not considered by the Courts to be an emergency. That is not to say that it is not important to the Court, it is just not urgent enough to change custody without proper notice and a hearing. In order to compound this problem further, most Courts shut down during the holiday season. As an Attorney, it is difficult to file a petition seeking immediate relieve when the Judge is not present. It is possible, to have an alternative Judge hear our request to take custody away from a parent without giving the other side an opportunity to be heard on a case that is not in his Courtroom and he has no past knowledge of, but the odds are not good.

So before you come into the office and ask us to file an emergency petition, make sure it is an emergency. In order to qualify as such their will need to be a substantial chance of irreparable harm occurring to the child should the Court not intervene. In most cases, missing presents on Christmas mourn will not suffice. The sentimental side of me would disagree, but the side that knows the law must regretfully inform you that it just doesn't.

Illicit Lover (Can Your Significant other be around your kids after your divorced?)

Screen_shot_2010-09-03_at_7.04.14_PMThere are changes taking place in the State of Tennessee. Big Changes. If you're filing for Divorce in Memphis, or looking for a Divorce Lawyer in Memphis, you may want to discuss your significant other with your attorney. On June 8th, 2010 the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Jackson released a decision in the case of Barker v. Chandler that could have major implications on both future and past divorce cases.


Before we get into the case, I would like to define a word for you and give you some background.

Main Entry: par·amour
Pronunciation: \ˈpa-rə-ˌmu̇r\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from par amour for the sake of love, willingly, from Anglo-French par amur
Date: 14th century
: an illicit lover

Let me explain first what has long been the norm in our fine State and for Divorce cases in Memphis. In the parenting plan under section J. there is a space entitled "Other". Most practitioners place a provision in this area that says"Neither party shall have paramours or persons not related by blood nor marriage overnight (or for the more stringent: in the presence) of the minor child(ren)."

It sounds like common sense, especially after you read the definition of the word. Who wants an illicit lover around their child? Opponents of the language have long argued that the inclusion of such a provision is asking the Court to act as a moral compass, which is clearly not the job of the Court, but rather the parties. It would seem that the tides are turning and the winds of change are blowing. The Court has acted again as a moral compass, but the needle is now pointing in the opposite direction.

Barker v. Chandler dealt with a couple that divorced with two minor children. Dad remarried, Mom took a paramour. To be more direct, Mom took a female paramour. The Court included the standard paramour language and the battle began. Mom moved in with her girlfriend and the clause in effect kept her children from having overnight visitations. On appeal, the Father failed to offer any proof that the paramour was harmful to the children and a Doctors evaluation was of the opinion that the paramour and the children had a good relationship. Despite these offerings, the Trial Court felt compelled to include the standard language and refused to deviate from it.

On appeal, Judge J. Steven Stafford stated in relevant part "...The Trial Court was directed by this Court to determine whether a paramour provision was in the best interest of the children. After a hearing, the trial Court determined that it was in the best interest of the children to have a paramour provision in effect. Mother appealed. After reviewing the record, we find that the trial court abused its discretion by requiring a paramour provision as the record is devoid of any evidence to support a finding that the paramour provision is in the best interest of the children."

So what does this mean to you? It means that unless you consent to a paramour provision, you will need to fight to have one put in place. This means an expert, which means a doctor or teacher or priest or pastor, that will testify that being around the illicit lover of your soon to be ex spouse, is not in you child(ren)'s best interest.

If your on the opposite side of the fence and you want to ensure that your significant other can be around your children, I would suggest having them stay out of the picture until the divorce is final. And when they do show up, don't poke the angry dog in the cage with a stick. Be discreet. Don't let them stay over night, or make them sleep in a closet. After all, most relationships right after a divorce end up failing in the first year. You will not be the only person damaged by the introduction and removal. If you put yourself in the child's stride rights, you'll note that you've had enough changes with the divorce (a new house, a new parenting schedule, possibly a new school or church) the last thing we need to do is throw another unnecessary loss just for good measure.

So enjoy your you illicit lover, or plot against your spouses', but either way, in the word's of Mrs. Hellen Lovejoy "please remember the children!"

Money, Sex, Power and Puberty (A child's Preference in Custody)

I remember being thirteen. I remember thinking that Ashley was the hottest thing in the eighth grade, or was it Audrey, or Crystal, or BeBe, or Leslie get the idea. I remember not knowing if my Dad wanted to be my friend or my father. I remember I wanted designer clothes, less rules, more video game time and no consequences. I wanted power, money, and I didn't know what sex was entirely, but I was definitely interested.


I look back now and I know that my hormones were out of control. My body was trying to assimilate to that little thing called adulthood and it created quite a tug of war between my parents and I. I couldn't understand why my door had to be opened when my girlfriend was over, or why I had to do homework or cut the yard. My parents knew though. They were there to guide me and to make the right decision for me when I couldn't make them for myself. This is what I now as an adult refer to as parenting.

Imagine giving me the power to tell my parents, "No, I don't want to mow the yard and if you don't like it, you better find a way to live with it", or "i'll shut my door and do whatever I like with whomever I please." Looking back, I am very grateful and didn't have the authority to say anything remotely close.

In a separated household we have a Primary Residential Parent and a Alternated Residential Parent. The terms reflects where the child lives the majority of the time.
It is an issue that can cost thousands of dollars to dispute in Court and it is something Courts hate to decide, but when called upon to do so, they put a great amount of thought and time into deciding.

There is a urban legend that a 12 or 13 year old gets to choose where they want to live. I don't know where it came from. It is what I like to call street law. "I know a guy, that knows a guy, that hired an attorney once and they said...." It is true that at 12 a child can have their preference heard in a petition to modify custody, but it is not the deciding factor.

Giving a child that type of power would be a pandora's box that would cause parents to bend to the will of adolescents trying to cope with acne, young love and rebellious angst. It would mean discipline would disappear and fear of loss would take over. I assure you such is not the case.

The factors in deciding child custody can be found in TN Code 36-6-106. I've linked the code section and you can see that the choice of a child is one of many factors to be contemplated. The important thing to remember is that before any of these factors come into place, a petition has to be filed seeking a change. So don't be afraid to be a parent, and make them keep the doors open; the mind of a 13 year old boy is a scary thing.

A Great Idea



A week or two ago, my wife and I sat on our couch.  We had a problem.  I was spending far too many late nights at the office.  Any attorney will tell you this goes with the territory.  It multiplies exponentially when you go into business for yourself.

Add to this the duties that I have around the house, and the fact that I truly enjoy spending time with my family and you will see it equals an issue of sorts.  The conflict is that I love my job.  I love helping my clients, I love my staff, and I love working to make this site and our office better for you, our clients.

At the beginning of the year we took our first swing at fixing the problem.  We would just see clients on tuesdays and we would see them up until 8:00 in the evening.  This resulted in some late nights, but still clients that legitemitly needed our help were being wait listed.  That in my opinion is not changing anybody's perception of anything.  If nothing else its adding to the stereotype.  

Our solution sitting there on our ancient couch (if your reading this dear, a leather recliner can fit down the chimney...I checked with Santa) was to open up the flood gates and hold a seminar on either divorce or bankruptcy once a month.  Actually it was mostly my wife's idea, which once again shows that behind every mediocre man is a brilliant smoking hot women.  This would allow everybody to come in and hear what we could do differently than the other guy (or gal) and then only those that wanted to hire our office would need to see us during or limited office hours.

We had our first seminar on Divorce tonight and I must say it went rather well.  We announced it here on our website last week and I was worried no one would think the idea was as brilliant as I did.  We had 7 registrants and 6 of them showed up.  We got positive feedback and I think that it will turn into another way we can serve your better.  

For those that missed tonight, don't fret, you can catch the next Divorce Seminar the later part of next month and in two weeks we will have our first Bankruptcy Seminar.  Each seminar lasts approximately one hour and I assure you it is not a glorified sales pitch.  It is actual information that you can use whomever you choose to hire in your Memphis Divorce or Memphis Bankruptcy.  I will have video from tonights presentation up shortly and you can see for yourself.

By attending you also qualify for some special rates.  

To those that attended, thanks so much for making my wife's brain child a success.  If you did stop by, go to our google listing here and give us a review as to what you thought.  

Its late, and I need to head home.  I'm fairly certain though I can blame tonight on my wife....maybe.   

Leave The Elephant In The Room Alone

Since his birth, we've read little stories to our son about animals. Noah's Ark, The Creation, Goodnight Gorilla, Curious George and other treasured favorites. Most feature an Elephant in one form or another. William had always heard of an Elephant and he had seen pictures of it. He understood the concept of what was an Elephant, but he had never seen an Elephant until I took him to the Zoo. I was lucky enough to catch it on film.  If you watch the video below you can notice his reaction, he knew what an Elephant was from his everyday interactions with books, but when confronted with an actual Elephant, you can see the light come on and his eyes light up.



Parenting you child post divorce is a lot like the Elephant. You may think that your former spouse is the worst person in the world. You may have zero respect for their parenting skills or the amount of time that they spend with the child, but it should never be your job to tell your child your feelings on the matter.

There are a multitude of ways one could even do this inadvertently. For example, when a party is late for a visitation exchange, "i bet they got tied up in traffic, lets wait a little bit longer", is much preferred to "Why can't your Father/Mother get here on time?" Or the ever popular, we can't afford that, ask your Father/Mother, his child support isn't enough for me to buy those things." Instead lets go with "Let me talk with your Father/Mother, and see if that's something we can do."

The point is your child will know what is an what is not bad parenting, they may not know it on the front end, but eventually, after hearing stories from others and experiencing it themselves, they will now. One day, when they look at that parent and say "Oh...thats what a deadbeat looks like?" I promise, the next thought will be "I wonder how Mom/Dad put up with that" Eventually the child will not only understand the sacrifices you made, but they will thank you for not involving them in this issue. It won't be easy, it may be impossible. But kids like Elephants have very long memories, we just want to make sure your a fond one.

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