The Henegar Case: A Divorce Due to the All Too Common Problems of Debt and Chronic Illness
If someone asks you, while you are walking back to your car after filing a divorce petition at the courthouse, why you are divorcing your spouse, you may have bad things to say about them. The passage of time brings perspective, though, so ten years after the divorce becomes final, you might say that you and your ex divorced simply because life is hard, too hard for you to deal with as a couple. Financial hardships, your own chronic illnesses, and children’s special needs can turn disagreements with your spouse into irreconcilable differences over time, and it is no one’s fault. A Tennessee divorce lawyer can help you move on from a broken marriage in a way that enables everyone to heal.
Details of the Henegar Case
Jennifer and Jason Henegar married in Texas in 2007 and moved to Tennessee shortly thereafter; their son was born in 2010. When they married, they both had considerable debt, and both were earning a modest income. During the first years of their marriage, they were able to pay off Jennifer’s student loans. Jason had a full-time job at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for an annual salary of about $60,000, while Jennifer worked in healthcare administration, earning about $10 per hour. Jennifer quit her job to be a stay-at-home parent when their son was nine months old, to save on the cost of daycare and because of her clinical anxiety and chronic pain. Jason got a second job in retail, working about 36 hours per week at an hourly rate similar to what Jennifer had been earning. Jennifer’s parents helped them financially whenever possible. They decided to divorce late in 2013, but neither could afford to move out of the family home.
Their divorce was finalized in 2015. The court ordered that the child spend 182.5 days per year with each parent. Jason stayed in the family home, but the court ruled that both people must keep their names on the mortgage. In determining child support, it imputed an income of $10 per hour to Jennifer, even though she was not working at the time of the divorce. Jennifer appealed, asking to be the primary residential parent, arguing that such an arrangement would help their son cope with his sensory processing issues. The appeals court ruled that the parents should continue to divide their parenting time equally, but it agreed to recalculate child support payments to account for the child’s educational expenses now that he was attending school full-time.
The Bottom Line
A wedding ring isn’t going to turn a frog into a handsome prince or a control freak into a laid-back beach bum. Financial stress and health issues can exacerbate existing conflicts between you and your spouse. Life is not fair, but a family law attorney can help you find ways to deal with your current situation is a way that is fair to everyone.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
A decision by a divorce court is not set in stone; it is possible to modify it if circumstances change. Contact Knoxville divorce attorney Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.