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Getting Divorced in Tennessee? Be Careful What You Say About Your Spouse or Face Consequences

Franklin divorce lawyer provides guidance on this little-known point of law

When you get divorced, tensions are high, and you may not be thinking most kindly about your spouse. Depending on the circumstances of your marriage and divorce, you may outright hate your spouse – and have good reason to do so. Needing validation and a little room to vent, you may complain often and loudly about your spouse and the latest shenanigans. Unfortunately, if you do that to the wrong person, such as an employer, you could face legal consequences. Let’s explain.

When a person files a divorce case in Tennessee, and when the other spouse is served with the summons and complaint, statutory injunctions go into effect. Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-4-106 lists several injunctions, one of which prohibits both parties from harassing, threatening, assaulting, or abusing the other, and prohibits both parties from making disparaging remarks about the other spouse to their children, or in the presence of the children, or to either party’s employer. This injunction lasts until the divorce proceedings have finalized (or certain other events occur, whichever is sooner).

I’m Judy A. Oxford, an experienced divorce lawyer with my office in Franklin, Tennessee, and I help clients understand the parameters of this injunction and how to avoid criminal consequences for violating it.

At first glance, you may not think that you are in any danger of violating this injunction. Why would you want to disparage your spouse to an employer, you might think? But if you have the same employer and your spouse hits you, for example, you might mention it to your boss to ask for protection or separation, or you might mention it to explain why you have visible marks. Other possibilities include a wife who is married to a police officer or a public official making a formal complaint to the government agency for abuse of power, such as getting co-workers to cover up an official report or using a public office to intimidate or harass the wife.

You may have real reason to mention your spouse’s behavior to his or her employer (or to your shared employer) other than just wanting to tell the world how you were mistreated. You may feel that you have legal cause to file a complaint or that you are not safe. However, if this is the case, you need to work with your divorce attorney to take the appropriate course of action, including getting an order of protection if warranted, or pursuing a criminal charge or a civil action that is separate from the divorce case.

The bottom line is that you need to be very careful about what you say to others during your divorce proceeding, whether you say it in person, send an email, or even just post vaguely on social media. All those things can be used against you in your divorce proceeding or even used to allege criminal contempt against you. It may be best to stay mum and vent to your divorce attorney and your therapist until all is said and done.

If you are contemplating separation or divorce, call me, Judy A. Oxford, an experienced divorce attorney from Franklin, Tennessee, to begin discussing your legal options, your legal rights, and responsibilities, and to begin considering strategies to move forward. By working with me right from the beginning, you may be able to strengthen your case and sidestep potential errors, like violating injunctions. Call my office at (615) 791-8511to schedule a free consultation, or fill out the secure online form on my website.