Franklin TN Divorce Lawyer Answers Common Questions About Divorce
As hard as marriage can be sometimes, divorce is even harder. Part of what makes it so hard is trying to figure out the complexities of separating your lives which have become so intertwined. There are a lot of legal questions, such as who gets the property, who has responsibility for the debt, and whether anyone has to pay alimony or other support. If you have children, divorce becomes even more complex as it includes questions of child support, decision-making (custody), and parenting time (visitation).
I spend a good deal of my time simply helping clients understand their legal rights and responsibilities before deciding on a strategy for a divorce settlement. By providing you with some answers to the frequently asked questions I get about divorce, I hope to help you have a better understanding of these rights and responsibilities so that when we meet, you are ready to dive into the deeper questions as they pertain to your case and start working on your strategy.
What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce in Tennessee?
Tennessee has two types of divorce: Contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree to the divorce, usually on the grounds of irreconcilable divorces, or “we just can’t make it work anymore.” A contested divorce is one in which the parties do not agree, either to the reason for the divorce or to wanting the divorce at all.
When there is a contested divorce, one party has to show grounds for the divorce. Grounds can include:
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse, when the habit was acquired after the wedding date
- Impotency and sterility (this means, naturally impotent and incapable of procreation)
- Bigamy (having another spouse)
- Pregnancy by another before the marriage without the knowledge of the husband
- Desertion without reasonable cause for a full year
- Refusal to move to Tennessee, resulting in living apart two years
- Separation of two years without reconciliation or cohabitation, and the parties have no minor children
- Abandonment or neglect, and refusal to provide for the spouse (while having the ability to provide)
- Felony conviction and sentenced to serve time in the penitentiary
- Attempt on the life of the other spouse by poison or other malicious means
If the divorce is contested, I work with clients to show evidence of these or other grounds. Then we work toward getting a fair settlement, including division of finances, child support, and child custody.
Can I get alimony? Or will I have to pay alimony to my spouse?
Tennessee does award alimony, but many factors are considered to determine if it should be awarded and how much. The two most important factors are one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. The courts will also consider the age, mental condition, and physical condition of each party to determine earning potential and financial need. When determining capacity for work, regardless of disability, the court will determine education and training, as well as whether any party has custody of minor children. The court will also determine the earning capacity of each, the financial assets of each, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Many other factors will also be considered, such as the length of the marriage, fault by either party, contributions to the marriage, and so on. I analyze each case to help my clients understand exactly what their potential for getting or paying alimony is and what amount might be expected.
How long will my divorce take?
You can file for a divorce at any time. You do not have to endure a waiting period or separation before filing in Tennessee. After filing the initial Complaint for Divorce, if you have minor children, at least 90 days must pass before the marriage can be dissolved. If there are no minor children, the divorce can be granted when 60 days has passed after the complaint is filed.
Contested divorces take longer. The time can be prolonged when complex assets are involved or if there is a prolonged fight over custody or financial issues. Sometimes the court’s dockets can be backed up extensively, and in those cases people can wait a long time for their trial date. I work to create the strongest case on behalf of my clients so that the case is resolved quickly under all the circumstances, and in my client’s favor.
Will I have to go to court?
When cases are settled, the court typically requires the plaintiff to appear on a date certain in order for the paperwork to be reviewed and the divorce to be granted. When the parties are unable to settle, they will go to court for their trial, where testimony will be required on the issues.
It is in your best interests to work together with your spouse to get a fair settlement for both parties so that you can save time and money on legal fees. My goal is to mediate the right settlement for my clients in the shortest amount of time, but I am prepared to litigate where necessary.
Can I start dating before my divorce is final?
I recommend that you do not date. Even if you have been separated for a long time, you are still legally married, and if you date before your divorce is final, you are committing inappropriate marital conduct at the very least. If you date while separated, your spouse can accuse you of adultery or other fault grounds, and use that to try to get a better settlement, not to mention getting angry and irrational thus rendering it much more difficult to reach a reasonable settlement.
Can I file for divorce myself in Tennessee?
Technically, yes, you can. You need only file the appropriate paperwork with the court to have your divorce granted. However, if you do not work with an attorney, you are taking a big gamble. You could end up losing custody of your children or failing to get the appropriate child support agreement to provide for yourself and your children. You could lose your home, your retirement accounts, or other assets. You could miss out on needed alimony, or you could be ordered to pay alimony. Worst case scenario, you could find that you are still married.
By working with an experienced TN divorce lawyer, you protect your rights and your family.
Contact an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer today to learn more
If you are thinking of filing for divorce, I urge you to call me, Judy A. Oxford Attorney at Law, for a free 20-minute consultation. You can call my office at (615) 791-8511 or use the secure online form.