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Family Law Conference for Tennessee Attorneys

Family Law Conference for Tennessee Attorneys

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13th Annual
Family Law Conference for Tennessee Attorneys

Nashville School of Law: December 6-7, 2018

To attend one day in both programs, please contact for concierge service.

Leading domestic law attorneys from across the state will address significant developments in the family law area and will provide practice tips for Tennessee attorneys. There will three 1-hour ethics sessions on Thursday as well as an update by a prominent CPA on valuing and dividing marital property in Tennessee on Friday. Topics presented by attorneys include discovery and evidence in divorce, procedures for terminating parental rights, modifying child custody/visitation, adoption law, relocation and child abduction issues, settlement negotiation, trial strategies and drafting final orders, and avoiding discipline.

Featuring an all-star cast of prominent Tennessee judges and attorneys and 15 hours of CLE credit, including 3 hours of ethics/professionalism.

This powerful program will cover the latest updates and strategies on:

  • Business court docket. Get an overview from Staff Attorney Charlie Baldwin about practice and procedures for the state's business court docket.
  • Updates. Get up to date on the latest developments in the areas of privacy law and real estate.
  • Bankruptcy. Learn effective methods for spotting relevant issues and representing your client.
  • Malpractice. Learn the ins and outs of handling malpractice cases in Tennessee.
  • Timely issues. Get information on the new standards and laws surrounding the opioid epidemic and developments to the Tennessee Uniform Limited Partnership Act of 2017.
  • Patent law and trade secrets. Learn the basics of patent law and trade secrets so that you know the best way to direct your clients.
  • Probate/estate planning. Get tips on improving your probate practice, as well as tips and techniques to use in estate planning.
  • Lawyer advertising. Get tips on how to market yourself and your law firm ethically and effectively.
  • HIPAA. Be sure you know how to remain compliant when dealing with HIPAA and HITECH.
  • Business valuation. Understand the process of valuing a business or business asset.


  • Discovery and advanced discovery issues
  • Procedures for terminating parental rights
  • Adoption law
  • Meditation techniques
  • Modifying child custody/visitation
  • Dealing with retirement issues
  • Best Apps for attorneys
  • Ethical concerns from the Board of Professional Responsibility
  • International issues – relocation and child abduction  
  • Valuing and dividing marital property
  • Parental relocation
  • Military divorce issues
  • Negotiating of settlement agreements

 Attendees will receive a binder of the materials during the conference and will be able to download the materials after the seminar.

Your Distinguished December Faculty

Meghan A. Bodie

Meghan A. Bodie is an attorney with The Bodie Law Office, where she practices in the areas of family law, custody and visitation, adoptions, divorce, and orders of protection. Ms. Bodie is a member of the Knoxville and Tennessee bar associations and Alabama State Bar. After graduating from Emory & Henry with a degree in political science, Ms. Bodie went on to attend Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, where she earned her J.D. degree. While studying for her degree, Ms. Bodie interned with the Alabama Attorney General's Office and the Tennessee Supreme Court, gaining valuable legal experience that she uses regularly.


Kimberley Reed-Bracey is a partner at Haynes, Freeman & Bracey PLC in Goodlettsville. Ms. Reed-Bracey focuses her practice on trial work, family law, divorce, child support, adoptions and parenting plan modifications. Ms. Reed-Bracey is a listed Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator. She earned her J.D. degree from Nashville School of Law, where she now teaches as the Business Associations Professor. Ms. Reed-Bracey is the head of two non-profits supporting a 357 student school in Laffito, Haiti as well as a church and other Haitian projects. Ms. Reed-Bracey buit a small hotel (Ti 'Otel La) to house short term missionaries. Her efforts can be viered on Facebook @ WHFBC Haiti Ministries or TIME4Haiti as well as at

Rebecca E. Byrd

Rebecca E. Byrd is an attorney with Byrd & Hood, an association of attorneys in Franklin, Tennessee. She practices in the areas of family law and general civil litigation. Ms. Byrd is certified by the Tennessee Supreme Court as a Rule 31 family mediator and Rule 31 civil mediator. She is also certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a certified family law trial attorney. Ms. Byrd served as president of the Tennessee Family Law Section, Tennessee Bar Association. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Ms. Byrd is a member of the Williamson County, Tennessee, and American bar associations. She received her B.S. degree, with high honors, from the University of Louisville and her J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, where she was on the dean's list.

James (Jimmy) D. Helton, II

James (Jimmy) D. Helton, II, with the Helton Law Office in Brentwood, focuses his practice on domestic relations order drafting and litigation in state and federal court. In that capacity, he works closely with family lawyers and their clients in the post-divorce division of ERISA, federal, military, and state retirement plans. Mr. Helton also advises family law attorneys during mediation on the best practices for their marital dissolution agreements and on specific issues that are unique to each parties’ retirement. Mr. Helton graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2005.

Larry Hayes, Jr.

Larry Hayes, Jr. is a member of Jackson, Kweller, McKinney, Hayes, Lewis & Garret. Mr. Hayes concentrates his Family Law practice on divorce actions involving large estates or complex issues at the trial and appellate levels. Mr. Hayes has handled many difficult divorce actions including those which involved complex valuation issues, such as valuing printing companies, doctor's practices, lawyer's practices, automobile dealerships, insurance companies, construction companies, petroleum distributors, real estate partnerships, and interstate trucking companies. Mr. Hayes has handled numerous complex multi-state custody battles successfully for clients, including a custody battle which encompassed the law of four different states at the same time. Mr. Hayes has also handled unique cases such as an Alienation of Affections lawsuit which originated in Tennessee, but wound up being litigated in Federal Courts in North Carolina. Mr. Hayes has represented a wide range of divorce clients, from country music entertainers, their spouses and their children to the spouse of one of the Forbes 500 Wealthiest Americans, which at the time was reputed to be the largest pending divorce action in the United States. Mr. Hayes has represented professional athletes and the spouses of professional athletes. Mr. Hayes has also handled divorces which crossed international boundaries, including a recent one which evolved into an annulment proceeding, then back into a divorce action which was governed by not only Tennessee law, but also the laws of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canada and Guadeloupe, and required the coordinated efforts of several lawyers in several countries.

Mr. Hayes is active in civil and community affairs and has been a guest lecturer on Law and Economics at various high schools throughout the middle Tennessee area.

Lewis Jenkins

Lewis Jenkins is a partner in the law firm of Jenkins Dedmon Hayes Law Group LLP, where he practices in the areas of civil litigation and appeals, commercial law, estate planning and probate, taxation, employment law, family law, and civil rights. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and serves as the Reporter of the Tennessee Supreme Court Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure. He received his B.S. and J.D. degrees from Vanderbilt University, an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Alabama, and a Postgraduate Certificate from the University of London (in Maritime Law). He is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Missouri and is a member of the Dyer County and Tennessee bar associations, the Missouri Bar, the Federalist Society, and the American Bar Association. He is a member of the Howell Edmunds American Inn of Court in Jackson, Tennessee, a Sustaining Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation, and was a member of the 2008 class of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program. He served on the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission (2009-2013) and on the Board of Directors of West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc. (1996-2000). He volunteers with the Tennessee Bar Association Appellate Pro Bono Project and received the West Tennessee Legal Services Pro Bono Award in 2013. He served as a Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility Hearing Panel member (2012-2018). He has been a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility since 1996. He served on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992.

Stanley A. Kweller

Stanley A. Kweller is a member of Jackson, Kweller, & Hayes in Nashville, Tennessee. A majority of his legal experience involves litigation and trials in the civil and criminal arenas. Mr. Kweller has had an active trial practice, including jury and non-jury trials at all levels including federal and state courts and appellate maters. He spent 10 years as a criminal prosecutor. Mr. Kweller's current practice is a mixture of general civil litigation (including a large percentage of practice in domestic relations law, divorce, post-divorce and custody issues) and business and commercial law. He has served as a hearing panel member for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. He is admitted to practice before the Tennessee Supreme Court, U.S. District Court for Middle and Eastern districts of Tennessee, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Kweller earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Emory University and his J.D. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Joanna McCracken

Joanna McCracken is an attorney, yoga instructor, and meditation teacher. She is one of the two managing partners of Piper McCracken, PLLC, a Nashville law firm that focuses on family law.

Ms. McCracken is also the founder of Mind Your Business, LLC – an organization that puts on workshops for business professionals in all fields teaching meditation and yoga techniques to overcome occupational stress.

Earlier this year, Ms. McCracken and her law partner Heather Piper, who is also a life coach, co-founded The Balanced Life Movement – an advocacy group that promotes the cultivation of a balanced life through the use of multiple tools and techniques. The movement holds balanced life events, hosts seminars, and creates balanced life initiatives that provide encouragement, support, and accountability.

Ms. McCracken’s passion for the promotion of a healthy, balanced life stems from personal experience. She divorced when her daughters were just one and four years old. As a single parent, she put herself through night law school, working three jobs during the days and weekends, with no family around for support. It was during this time of immense struggle that she turned to meditation and yoga, both of which transformed her life and gave her the tools she needed to cope with the demands of her life and to prioritize her wellbeing.

Ms. McCracken understands first-hand the pressures and strain of working in a high-stress profession. Her primary area of practice is divorce - one of the most emotionally-charged areas of law. However, Ms. McCracken’s law firm embodies work-life balance. The firm is proud of its short work hours, long vacations, and the daily fulfillment of the promise that each employee’s personal wellbeing comes before anything else. The result is a firm of rested, healthy, and happy individuals who, in turn, have the energy and focus needed to provide the best client experience. Piper McCracken, PLLC attorneys are the recipients of multiple client- satisfaction awards.

Ms. McCracken is an active committee member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Wellbeing Committee. She gives wellbeing presentations at law schools, legal seminars, and CLE conferences.

Marlene Moses

Marlene Moses, Marlene Eskind Moses, an internationally recognized family law expert and founding manager of MTR Family Law, PLLC is President-Elect of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.

Moses is a past-president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and was awarded the organization’s Outstanding Fellow of the Year Award. She is a fellow of the Tennessee Bar Association Foundation and the Nashville Bar Association Foundation. She is a Diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers and serves as secretary. She is a past president of the Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society, the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, and Lawyers Association for Women. She is a former vice president of the Nashville Bar Association. She has served on the Tennessee Bar Association’s Family Law Code Commission. Moses has also been recognized by Mid-South Super Lawyers for her family law practice since 2006.

Moses graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Social Work. In 2012, she received the Distinguished Alumnae Award from the Newcomb Alumnae Association of Tulane University. Moses received her law degree from the Nashville School of law and has been honored with the Nashville School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award.

Cheryl C. Panther

Cheryl C. Panther provides divorce financial services and full-service, traditional financial planning as a CPA and a registered investment advisor (Tennessee). She brings creative, outside-the-box analytical skills to the often complex financial and taxation issues in divorce cases and settlements, providing a variety of specialized divorce financial services to clients and their attorneys, including litigation and mediation consulting and support as a neutral financial and tax professional in collaborative divorce and negotiated settlements. Ms. Panther is an active member of the Middle Tennessee Collaborative Alliance, the Association of Divorce Financial Planners, and other professional associations. She has been a CPA for more than 25 years and earned the prestigious personal financial specialist designation from the AICPA. Ms. Panther graduated from The University of Tennessee - Knoxville and received an executive certificate in financial planning from Belmont University. She maintains her practice in Nashville.

Jessica D. Scouten

Jessica D. Scouten is the senior manager with KraftCPAs PLLC and has more than a decade of public accounting and litigation support experience. She works primarily with financially distressed enterprises and business units where she specializes in investigative accounting matters, including fraud investigations, forensic accounting and bankruptcy. Her case work has ranged from internal investigations of accounting and financial reporting irregularities to more intensive investigations of alleged fraud and other misconduct subject to litigation. Ms. Scouten is skilled in data mining, data analytics, and other areas of electronic discovery. Most recently, she has led a team of more than 50 staff assisting a law firm in the investigation of alleged white collar crimes where more than 9 million emails and other documents are being mined and analyzed. Ms.Scouten is a certified public accountant (CPA), certified fraud examiner (CFE); master analyst in financial forensics, forensic accounting specialty (MAFF) and has passed the certified insolvency and restructuring advisor (CIRA) exam and is awaiting certification. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA), TSCPA Scholarship & Awards Committee, National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA), Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), associate member, Turnaround Management Association (TMA), Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors (AIRA), Nashville Conflict Resolution Center, board member and treasurer. Ms. Scouten received her B.S. degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Accounting, from Messiah College. (Nashville and Knoxville locations).

Preston Shipp

Preston Shipp is currently Disciplinary Counsel at the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Prior to joining the Board, Mr. Shipp served as an appellate prosecutor in the Tennessee Attorney General’s office from 2004 until 2008. Before working as an Assistant Attorney General, Preston clerked for two years for the Honorable Judge David H. Welles on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy of Lipscomb University, where he has taught Criminal Law & Procedure, Ethics & the Laws of Compliance, Judicial Process, Restorative Criminal Justice, and Street Law.

Mr. Shipp received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2002, and his Bachelor of Arts from Lipscomb University in 1999. He has been licensed to practice law in Tennessee since 2002, and in 2006, he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Kortney D. Simmons

Kortney D. Simmons, is an attorney with Casey Simmons & Bryant PLLC, where her primary areas of practice are criminal defense, juvenile and family law. She practices in courts across Tennessee, but primarily practices in West Tennessee. Ms. Simmons is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association (Young Lawyers Division Board member, District 13 Representative), Federal Bar for the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Jackson-Madison County Bar Association (Young Lawyers Division past-president (2014-2016)), Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Ballard-Taylor Bar Association, and Lawyers' Association for Women. She has received numerous awards, including 10 Best American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys; 10 Best Female Attorneys (2016); Top 40 under 40 for the state of Tennessee, criminal defense, National Trial Lawyers (2016); National Black Lawyers (2016). Ms. Simmons earned her B.S. degree from Middle Tennessee State University and her J.D. degree, with a certificate in criminal law, from the University of Mississippi School of Law.


Vanedda P. Webb is a sole practitioner who has spent the vast majority of her 25 years of practice representing clients in family law litigation in Northwest Tennessee. Ms. Webb is a past president of both the Dyer County Bar Association and the Obion County Bar Association. She served as a law clerk to former Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Joe G. Riley. Ms. Webb is a cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and the University of Tennessee at Martin.


December Agenda

DAY 1 — Thursday, December 6

8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Ethics in Mediation
Marlene Moses
MTR Family Law, PLLC 

In this session, Ms. Moses will discuss:

  • Confidentiality
  • Model standards of conduct for mediators
  • Recent cases and advisory opinions
  • Mediator's ethical dilemmas

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Procedures for Terminating Parental Rights
Meghan Bodie
The Bodie Law Office

Terminating someone's parental rights is not an area of the law that should be taken lightly.  Learning the skills necessary to efficiently and effectively do so is necessary in order to create a smooth and successful adoption for your client.

  • General requirements that need to be considered
  • Obtaining confirmed consent and surrender of birth parents
  • Properly dealing with notice requirements
  • Observing guidelines governing involuntary termination
  • Where complaints may be filed
  • Issues handled by state common pleas courts
  • When default proceedings may move forward 

10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
Morning Break

10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Ethical Perils in Divorce Practice
Stanley A. Kweller
Jackson, Kweller, & Hayes

In this session, Mr. Kweller will discuss: 

  • Controlling client relations and recognizing dishonesty
  • When withdrawal of counsel is appropriate
  • Conflict checks and avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Confidentiality and disclosure issues
  • Fee agreements – sample agreement review
  • Dealing with pro se litigant
  • Recent ethics opinions update

11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Legal Update: Trends and New Law
Kimberley Reed-Bracey
Haynes, Freeman & Bracey, PLC

Get up-to-date on the most recent decisions in family law from Tennessee’s appellate court decisions involving child support, custody, visitation, alimony, and more. In this session, Ms. Reed-Bracey will highlight the most recent cases as well as facilitate discussion on the varying interpretations and trends of the Courts applying the newest statutes.

12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
LUNCH (included with registration)

1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Tackling Retirement in Tennessee Divorces
Jimmy Helton
Helton Law Office

Mr. Helton will address best practices for drafting MDA language to divide retirement plans in Tennessee divorces and will cover the recent changes in Tennessee law allowing state and local governments to accept Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs).

2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Avoiding Discipline from Start to Finish
Preston Shipp
Disciplinary Counsel, Board of Professional Responsibility

Mr. Shipp will cover common mistakes that attorneys make from the initial consultation all the way to closing the client file. He will also cover how to avoid common violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct along the way.

3:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Afternoon Break

3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
A Legal Update for Modern Families
Vanedda Prince Webb
Attorney at Law

In this session, Ms. Webb will discuss: 

  • Cohabitating Couples/Domestic Partnerships
  • Grandparent Rights
  • Guardianships
  • Emancipation of Minors
  • Current Paternity Case Law
  • Paternity Fraud
  • Paternal Rights
  • Update on Paternity Affidavits

4:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Meditation Techniques for Family Law Practitioners
Joanna McCracken
Piper McCracken, PLLC

UNDERSTANDING THE FUNDAMENTALS: Meditation and mindfulness in theory and in practice 

  • What is meditation? 
  • An overview 
  • The benefits 
  • Mindfulness 
  • Mindfulness of what? 
  • The origins of mindfulness 
  • Brief history 
  • Brief philosophy 
  • Breaking down mindfulness 
  • Four mindfulness meditation techniques to cultivate awareness of different aspects of your daily experience 
  • Trying them out 
  • A few minutes of each technique 
  • Complimentary meditation techniques 
  • Why they’re at least as, or more, important than mindfulness 
  • Trying them out 
  • A few minutes of other techniques 

OFF THE CUSHION: Using and applying meditation skills 

  • How can these practices help with your professional life? 
  • How can these practices help with your personal life? 
  • When and how can you use 
  • Practical tips for incorporating into your work day and home life 
  • Experiencing the results of practice 
  • Resources


DAY 2 — Friday, December 7

8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Prenuptial Agreements: Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing
Larry Hayes, Jr.
Jackson, Kweller, Hayes & Lewis

In this session, Mr. Hayes will discuss: 

  • Understanding client expectations
  • Addressing necessary litigation provisions
  • Counseling clients on keeping property separate
  • Drafting for the duration of the marriage
  • Drafting in anticipation of divorce
    • Property/title
    • Children - custody, visitation, expenses and more
    • Insurance and retirement benefits
    • Other key components to include
  • Interplay of wills, trusts and premarital agreements

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Tax Treatment and Consequences of Divorce: A Practical Refresher
Cheryl Panther
Panther Financial Planning

In this session, Ms. Panther will discuss: 

  • Filing status of divorcing parties
  • Tax consequences when property is sold/transferred post-divorce
  • Tax basis of assets; review of capital gains
  • Itemized deductions, real estate taxes and mortgage interest
  • 2017 tax cuts and jobs act
  • Tax impact of dividing IRAs, KEOGH plans, retirement accounts/pension plans
  • Spousal support taxation: recapture rule and more
  • Child tax benefits

10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
Morning Break

10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Contract Law for Family Lawyers
Brenton Lankford
Stites & Harbison, PLLC

In this session, Mr. Lankford will discuss: 

  • Tax considerations in the sale of assets
  • Tax returns for the year of the divorce
  • Liability for prior tax returns
  • Dependency exemptions
  • Income tax and spousal support

11:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Lunch (included with registration)

12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Trusts and Divorce
Lewis Jenkins
Jenkins Dedmon Hayes Law Group, LLP

In this session, Mr. Jenkins will discuss: 

  • Tax implications of divorce
  • Updating estate planning and retirement documents, and what might happen if you don’t
  • Has estate planning become income tax planning for most people?
  • Planning for medical decisions
  • Planning for disabled dependents

1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Pretrial Motion Practice & Settlement Strategies
Rebecca Byrd
Byrd & Hood 

  • Best arguments to make in negotiations
  • Preparing for and going to mediation
  • Hearings and trial: what to expect and how to prepare
  • Direct and cross examination in divorce
  • Drafting final orders

2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon Break

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Marital vs. Nonmarital Property and Tracing
Jessica Scouten

In this session, Ms. Scouten will discuss: 

  • Marital vs. Nonmarital assets
  • Steps to prepare a marital balance sheet
  • Tools and tips for tracing undisclosed assets
  • Prenups drafted in other states
  • Events between separation & decree

4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Violence in the Home
Kortney D. Simmons
Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC

In this session, Ms. Simmons will cover:

  • Restraining order vs. Protective order
  • Disputing false allegations
  • Adult protective services
  • Child protective services
  • Child abduction
  • TROs post-dissolution



Nashville School of Law
4013 Armory Oaks Dr.
Nashville, TN 37204 

*Convenient access to 1-65 and 1-440 

Need directions? CLICK HERE


  • $497 full program 
  • $347 (One day only – choose either Thursday or Friday)
  • $247 for materials
  • $50 early bird discount until October 26 – (December conference) 

15 hours of Continuing Mediation Education (CME) credit, including 1 hour of Continuing Mediation Ethics
15 hours of CLE (11 hours of GENERAL and 4 hours of DUAL)
Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The conference begins at 8:00 a.m. and concludes at 5:00 p.m.
Lunch will be provided with registration!

To sponsor this event, please contact Olivia Al-Sadi at



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