Copy-of-Copy-of-Kids-are-expensive-paul-blog-post-YouTube-Livestream-Video-1-300x169What Is a Military Letter of Reprimand?

A military letter of reprimand (LOR) is an administrative censure given to a servicemember for alleged failure to comply with military rules or regulations. A letter of reprimand is a serious matter, and servicemembers subject to receiving one should carefully consider their options. A letter of reprimand is important because this letter might stay in a servicemember’s file and impact the ability of that servicemember to be promoted, selected for new training and assignments, or lead to administrative discharge in some circumstances.  Any servicemember that is committed to the military as a career could find an LOR in their record to be seriously problematic.

Letters of reprimand are often issued by General Officers and may sometimes be referred to by the acronym ‘GOMOR’ for General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand.

image-2-300x167No engaged couple goes into a marriage planning to get divorced—but maybe they should. As a Tennessee bride-to-be I am certainly more concerned with flower arrangements and dress fittings than I am with whether the marriage will eventually sour. Unfortunately, the romance and excitement of planning a perfect wedding often overshadow the harsh reality that divorce is a common outcome of modern marriages, and it can be beneficial for you and your significant other to have an asset division plan in place before saying “I do.”

Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are probably the most well-known premarital contract thanks to their widespread use by the rich and famous. Because of their association with society’s elite, prenups notoriously suffer from a negative reputation and are commonly believed to be an indication that the marriage is not expected to last. This common (albeit misguided) characterization of prenups means that it can be difficult and awkward to broach the topic with a partner.

Tennessee residents wishing to protect their individual property can avoid the delicate discussion altogether. In 2007, the Tennessee Investment Services Trust (“TIST”) Act established a new form of domestic asset protection by allowing a person to unilaterally transfer property into an Investment Services Trust (“IST”). Tennessee is one of only seventeen (17) states to offer this type of trust, thus making it a fairly unique method for local residents to shield their property from future ex-spouses.

Copy-of-Kids-are-expensive-paul-blog-post-YouTube-Livestream-Video-300x169With the average age of marriage increasing, people are bringing more and more assets into a marriage. With that in mind, you should consider how to protect those assets in the event of a divorce. People have a tendency to scoff at the idea of a prenuptial agreement, also known as an antenuptial agreement or ‘prenup.’ Prenups are viewed as a sign that you do not think your marriage will work out or that you do not trust your future spouse. But I will ask you this: Would you rather decide how your assets and liabilities are divided when you are in love with your partner and have each other’s best interests at heart, or would you rather wait to have that discussion until the worst-case scenario has occurred and you now despise each other?

What goes into a prenup?

A prenup helps ensure that you and your future spouse have a clear understanding of the division of finances and property if a divorce were to occur. It can also be used to outline how income will be utilized during the marriage, i.e. who pays what bills. In addition, a prenup affords you the opportunity to discuss various scenarios, such as whether you will receive additional finances at the time of divorce if you stayed home to take care of the kids.

Kids-are-expensive-paul-blog-post-YouTube-Livestream-Video-300x169Kids Are Expensive $!$

It is commonly said that one of the most expensive choices that can be made in life is having children. According to CBS News, the cost of raising a child from birth to age seventeen is approximately $310,000![i] In Tennessee the payment of child support is mandatory in cases where the child is born out of wedlock, where the parents are divorced, or where there is a domestic violence order of protection. The Tennessee child support guidelines may be found in Chapter 1240-02-04 of the Rules of the Tennessee Department of Human Services Child Support Services Division. The Social Security Act located at 42 U.S.C. §§ 651-669 requires states to establish guidelines for setting and modifying child support. Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 36-5-101(e), 71-1-105(a)(15), and 71-1-132 implement these requirements and direct the Tennessee Department of Human Services to establish guidelines to enforce those provisions of federal law.

In general, a child support order is based on the alternate residential parent’s earnings, income, and other evidence of ability to pay. The Child Support Guidelines define important terms in 1240-02-04.02 including Adjusted Gross Income, Adjusted Support Obligation, Alternate Residential Parent, Days, Pro Rata, and uninsured medical expenses.

BLUE-2023-Facebook-Post-Landscape-300x251Custody Determination and the Permanent Parenting Plan

Throughout Tennessee, courts are often tasked with rendering an initial child custody determination regarding one or more minor children between parents. These custody decisions – which are ultimately enshrined in the law in the form of court orders issued by a Tennessee court of competent jurisdiction – may occur between parents regardless of whether they are married. At the conclusion of a case where child custody is at issue, the courts in Tennessee will enter a Permanent Parenting Plan, setting out the parenting schedule between both parents for their children, and making provisions for the payment of child support, health insurance, and other important matters pertaining to the parties’ child(ren).

Once a Tennessee court has made a child custody decision, a parent displeased with the custody decision can appeal. However, if there is a significant change in the circumstances surrounding the child custody decision such that the Permanent Parenting Plan needs to be modified in order to continue to serve the best interests of the child or children, then a parent may seek a modification of the Permanent Parenting Plan by a court of competent jurisdiction. Circumstances giving rise to a basis for modification are myriad and may include one or both parents relocating from the original jurisdiction where the child custody decision was originally made.

Servicemembers that are in the process of determining if they are fit to return to duty or should be medically separated or discharged from the military due to their illnesses or injuries participate in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). The military calls it integrated because this process is done in conjunction with the federal department of Veterans Affairs to also determine the servicemembers entitlement to VA disability at the same time as determining the servicemember’s entitlement (if any) to military disability for retirement purposes. More information regarding the IDES is located on the VA website here, and the website here.

The possible outcomes from IDES for the military are:

  1. Finding the Servicemember is fit for duty and is returned to duty. There is therefore no medical separation or retirement for the servicemeber. Presumably the servicemember will continue his military service until later separated or retired.

A trademark’s protection can now expand to protect use of one’s trademark in digital worlds in the metaverse and within virtual reality. Hermès, a French luxury brand known for its iconic Birkin handbag, was successful in its litigation against Mason Rothschild, an NFT creator who is responsible for creating a series of 100 digital images entitled MetaBirkins.[i] A jury awarded Hermes $133,000 after finding Mr. Rothschild infringed on the trademark of Hermès and profited “unlawfully off the goodwill of its sought-after luxury product.”[ii] Other companies, like Miramax and Nike, have brought similar lawsuits asserting that NFT creators are infringing on the companies’ trademarks and copyrights.

Trademarks & NFTs

A trademark is a form of intellectual property that “can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.”[iii] A trademark is used to refer to a product that identifies as goods, while a “service mark” is used for services.[iv] A trademark is utilized to assist customers in recognizing and identifying a product in the marketplace as well as aid customers in differentiating a product from its competitors. Most importantly, a trademark also can “provide legal protection for” a brand and help guard the brand “against counterfeiting and fraud.”[v]

Shacking-Up-Cole-Law-Group-300x200Born right on the cusp of Millennial and Gen Z, I was raised with the impression that fifty percent (50%) of marriages end in divorce. Given that less than inspiring statistic, there is no doubt as to why the younger generations are postponing marriage or dropping the seemingly archaic notion all together. But at what cost? Outside of the tax implications, there are legal dilemmas that arise when you have been living with a significant other and have to divide assets without the protections of a divorce.

How does a divorce protect me?

Although many of us were raised with the idea that divorces are bad, they do allow certain protections for couples that need to separate. In Tennessee, ‘marital property’ is subject to equitable distribution at the time of divorce. In general, all property obtained during a marriage and all income from any increase in value of property obtained prior to the marriage constitutes marital property.[1] However, if you are not married and have no other contract dictating who gets what in the event of a breakup, despite investing in a home for years, you may walk away with nothing.

ComplainFrom my experience handling professional and commercial licensing defense cases, I have developed a strategy that should benefit any professional license holder or regulated business owner in Tennessee who has been notified that they are the subject of a complaint and under investigation for a potential rules violation.

This post is designed for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for any particular case. All case circumstances are unique and should be considered by an attorney in your area prior to acting upon any legal advice.

Your initial notification will probably be from an investigator assigned to your case. This letter will state the facts of the alleged infraction, your right to consult with counsel, your right to due process, and your right to be heard. You may be given a deadline to submit information in response to the investigation. Remember, the professional board is there to protect the public, not to protect you. Anything you say or do at this point can be used against you. Take this letter very seriously.

pexels-mart-production-7290690-300x200Any phrase, logo, design, or a combination of these elements, that describes and establishes a good or service is considered a trademark. Two very well-known stars of Hollywood, Hailey Bieber and Kim Kardashian, have recently found themselves involved in trademark infringement lawsuits. On June 15, 2022, Mrs. Hailey Bieber produced and launched a line of skincare products entitled Rhode.[i] Ms. Kim Kardashian also launched a skincare line in early June.[ii] Both lawsuits claim the Hollywood stars’ brands are confusing to customers and retail partners due to the names being similar to existing companies.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a form of intellectual property that “can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.”[iii] A trademark is used to refer to a product that identifies as goods, while a “service mark” is used for services.[iv] A trademark is utilized to assist customers in recognizing and identifying a product in the marketplace as well as aid customers in differentiating a product from its competitors. A trademark also can “provide legal protection for” a brand and help guard the brand “against counterfeiting and fraud”.[v] A trademark awards the owner with the rights to use a word or phrase in reference to specific goods and services, but not the right to the particular word or phrase in general. A trademark is highly successful in providing its various protections when it is creative and unique in reference to the good or service it describes.

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