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Articles Tagged with Cole Law Group

pexels-curtis-adams-3935350-300x200Does Each Co-Tenant Have the Right to Use 100% of Joint Property?

In Tennessee, 95.2% of the land is privately owned.[i] In many cases, private land is concurrently owned by two or more individuals as tenants in common. Although each co-tenant in a tenancy in common holds an undivided interest in the property and retains the right to use and enjoy the property in its entirety, the co-tenants do not necessarily hold equal interests in the total value of the property. For example, one co-tenant may hold a 60% share of the property’s interest while two other co-tenants hold a 20% share; despite this, each tenant has the right to use 100% of the property.

What Is a Recurring Legal Issue That Impacts Tenancies In Common?

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Is Operating a Business Out of Your Home Illegal in Nashville? 

With over 1,600 home-based businesses operating in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, could it be true that many of them are illegal?¹ Section 17.16.250 of Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws that governs residential zoning ordinances contains a provision regarding “home occupations”.² The term home occupations refers to the practice of individuals operating small businesses from their residential homes. The provision prohibits the home occupations, or home businesses, from performing services for customers on their residential property. For many home businesses, customers and customer interaction are the sole source of profit. In “Music City,” a community full of artists, musicians, and other creative professionals, this ordinance presents several problems for those wanting to teach music and art or even to create music and art with other professionals in the industry.  

This exact zoning ordinance presented an issue for a local Nashville music producer, Lij Shaw. Since 2015, Mr. Shaw has been in a battle with the City of Nashville to shut down the prosperous music studio located in his residential home. Mr. Shaw first received a letter from the city demanding his home music studio be closed and no longer open for business. Two years later, Mr. Shaw partnered with Pat Raynor, an individual running a hair salon out of her home and protested the residential zoning ordinance in court. The legal battle between Mr. Shaw and the City of Nashville was recently heard by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The decision of the Supreme Court of Tennessee will not be released for several months.  

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On November 12, 2021, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a new law addressing several issues related to the response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and COVID-19 vaccinations. The new law became effective immediately upon being signed by Gov. Lee on November 12, 2021. Among other things, the new law significantly curtails the government’s ability to impose mask mandates and prohibits the government and most private businesses from compelling individuals from providing proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason. This article discusses some of the important changes the new law brings to public policy surrounding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout Tennessee. 

At the outset, some of the most significant changes brought about by the new law concern restrictions on the ability of government and private businesses to require individuals to provide proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination. Specifically, the new law states that “[a] private business, governmental entity, school, or local education agency shall not compel or otherwise take an adverse action against a person to compel the person to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason.”¹ Importantly, the new law contains a broad definition of “private business,” and includes individuals, sole proprietorships, corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trusts, associations, and non-profit entities.² In addition, the new law contains a broad definition of “adverse action,” and includes discrimination “against a person by denying the person employment, privileges, credit, insurance, access, products, services, or other benefits.”³ As a result, under the new law, most private businesses and governmental entities in Tennessee are prohibited from requiring any individual from providing proof of vaccination in the event the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason, and this prohibition is applicable to employees, customers, or just about any individual who accesses products or services of a private business or covered governmental entity. 

Nevertheless, the new law does contain several important exceptions to the general prohibition of requiring proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination. The new law does not prevent the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Medicare and Medicaid providers, or assisted-care living facilities, federal government contractors or subcontractors, schools, or employers that submit notice in writing to the comptroller of the treasury that compliance with the new law would result in a loss of federal funding.4 Moreover, the new law does not prohibit “a place of entertainment” in Tennessee from requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain admission, or to allow a person to voluntarily provide proof of vaccination or proof of COVID-19 antibodies in lieu of presenting a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain admission to a “place of entertainment.”5 

Cole Law Group Blog

Military Law Attorney Paul Tennison

The main concern of most parents in Tennessee is the welfare of their child.  However, occasionally a single parent or a family will find themselves in the unfortunate and often heart-wrenching situation of dealing with the legal issue of emergency child custody. Emergency custody matters may arise due to any of the following:  the commitment of a serious offense by a minor child, the death of one or both parents, the incarceration of one or both parents, or the severe abuse or neglect of a minor child. In such cases, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) is mandated to investigate. The DCS mission is to “provide high quality prevention and support services to children and families that promote safety, permanency, and well-being.”¹

Tennessee custody laws are statutory. Thus, reading the section of Tennessee law that governs Juvenile Courts and Proceedings affords the reader a good idea of what law applies in specific emergency custody situations.²

Grayson v. Grayson Tennessee Court of Appeals

Cole Law Blog

Military Law Attorney Paul Tennison

A recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case spent significant time analyzing and discussing United States Department of Defense Financial Management Regulations regarding military retirement benefits in divorce. Grayson v. Grayson, No. E2020-01339-COA-R3-CV, 2021 Tenn. App. LEXIS 354 (Ct. App. Sep. 3, 2021).

Cole Law Group BlogThe marriage is over but the divorce lingers on.  Perhaps you are one who has now reached a high level of frustration because you still can’t get on with your life, because you and your ex-spouse are deadlocked on every issue, and because your divorce is dragging along at a snail’s pace.  Actually, your consternation may be justified.  The prolongation of divorce proceedings is both financially ruinous and emotionally devastating.  And you shouldn’t have to endure it forever. 

In Tennessee the procedure for dissolution of marriage is pretty straightforward.  A no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences with no minor children involved has a minimum statutory waiting period of 60 days (90 days if minor children are involved.)  This uncontested divorce process should be completed within one year and consists of four primary steps:  1) File a petition for divorce with the  court, 2) Prepare a Marital Dissolution Agreement, 3) Agree on a Permanent Parenting Plan if minor children are involved, and 4) Schedule a final hearing in court. The procedure for a contested divorce, on the other hand, can take up to two years and beyond to finalize simply because of the filing of motions and counter motions, discovery (interrogatives, fact finding, and depositions), court ordered mediation, or multiple hearings and a backlog of court cases.

And even though a contested divorce by its very acrimonious nature takes longer to resolve, it is wise to be aware of certain mindsets and external influences that can turn a routine process into a never-ending nightmare.  Below are some bumps in the road that can derail a successful, timely divorce resolution.

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Attorney Paul Tennison Active Duty

The Physical Disability Review Board was created by federal law with the passage of the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act in 2008. The DTWWA made several significant changes to the care of wounded veterans. First, the law required the military branches to use the same disability determination rating scale as that used by the VA. Second, the law expanded the care available to injured service members after their military service. This included changes in treatment in military and civilian facilities for a variety of conditions, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Third, the new law required comprehensive plans to address TBI and PTSD. Fourth, the law directed the Secretary of the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish physical disability review boards to review disability determinations meeting certain criteria and timeline requirements. The law also addressed the quality of housing provided to patients by requiring improved standards.1

After the law passed, the DoD issued instruction 6040.44 which “establish[ed] policies, assign[ed] responsibilities, and provide[d] procedures for PDBR operation and management as required by section 1554a of Title 10, United States Code.”2 The PDBR’s mandate is to: “reassess the accuracy and fairness of the combined disability ratings assigned former service members” who meet certain criteria.3 Those criteria are summarized here:

Blog-photo-defamation-law-1-300x200Recently, the Tennessee Senate and General Assembly unanimously passed HB 0777/SB1097 otherwise known as the Tennessee Public Participation Act. On April 23, 2019, Governor Bill Lee signed the bill which will become effective on July 1, 2019. This statute dictates new anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) measures for all citizens of Tennessee. The Tennessee Public Participation Act will broadly increase the protections as outlined in the first paragraph of the bill summary below:

“Under this bill, if a legal action is filed in response to a party’s exercise of the right of free speech, right to petition, or right of association, that party may petition the court to dismiss the legal action. All discovery in the legal action will be stayed upon the filing of a petition pursuant to this bill and the stay of discovery will remain in effect until the entry of an order ruling on the petition. The court may allow specified and limited discovery relevant to the petition upon a showing of good cause.”¹

The Tennessee Public Participation Act goes beyond Tennessee’s current anti-SLAPP Law (limited only to complaints made to government entities) and Tennessee’s “Loser pays” statute.² Tennessee joins states such as California and Texas in passing comprehensive anti-SLAPP legislation.

Path to Permanent Residence in Nashville, TNThroughout America, one of the greatest struggles facing millions of immigrants is that of obtaining lawful permanent residence or – as it is commonly called – a “Green Card.” There are dozens of possible paths to obtaining a Green Card. Even many undocumented immigrants have a pathway to legal permanent residence available to them. Part 2 of this series focuses on family-based immigration and some of the ways immigrants can seek a Green Card through family relationships they have with relatives who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. If you missed Part 1 of this series (an overview to obtaining a Green Card), you can find it here.

Currently, family-based immigration results in greater numbers of admissions than the other categories of immigrants. As specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act, eligibility for family-sponsored immigration is determined by an immigrant’s familial relationships to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1151, 1153. If an immigrant can be categorized as an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen, he or she may be exempt from the waiting times that apply to other categories in family-based immigration. However, immigrants seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status through their marriage to a U.S. citizen may also be subject to heightened scrutiny and evidentiary requirements. Determining your eligibility for a family-based immigration category, as well as which category is best for you, is a complex process that should not be attempted without the assistance of an immigration attorney.

Generally, the process of obtaining a Green Card in family-based immigration starts with the filing of a visa petition by the immigrant’s relative in the U.S. Visa petitions are generally filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Generally, a USCIS Officer will be responsible for adjudicating the visa petition. Approving a family-based visa petition can be discretionary for a USCIS Officer. Therefore, it is crucial to complete the visa petition in the legally correct manner and with sufficient supporting evidence to prove the bona fide nature of the family relationship. To gather the necessary evidence and complete the visa petition properly, it is important to secure the legal counsel of an immigration lawyer before submitting a visa petition to USCIS or any other government agency.

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