Most people to not make the decision to end their marriage lightly. On the contrary, deciding to seek a divorce is usually a decision made after careful consideration and much emotional turmoil. Once the decision has been made, however, the nest step is to initiate the legal process of divorce. Unless you have been through the Tennessee divorce process before, you may be a bit intimidated by the thought of trying to navigate the legal system, particularly during a time of great emotional upheaval. Having an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney by your side is the key to successfully navigating the divorce process.
Just as each marriage is unique, so is the divorce process unique to the parties involved. There are, however, some frequently asked questions, along with brief answers to those questions that may help you get started. If you have additional questions or concerns, or would like the answers to specific questions relating to your upcoming or ongoing divorce, please feel free to contact the family law attorneys at Bennett & Michael.
1. How can I prepare for a divorce?
Deciding to pursue a divorce is typically not an easy decision to make and certainly not a decision that should be made without proper consideration. Prepare for a divorce, once you have made the decision, is the next step. There are steps you may need to take before filing for a divorce in order to protect your rights during the divorce process. Learn more about preparing for divorce.
2. How does the divorce process work in Tennessee?
The divorce process begins with the filing of a Complaint by the Petitioner (the person who initiates the divorce). The Complaint, along with a Summons, is served on the Respondent (the other spouse) who then has a limited amount of time within which to file a written Answer. If no answer is filed, the Petitioner can ask for a default judgment. If an Answer is filed, the parties may work out an agreed settlement and file it with the court or the case will proceed to the discovery stage. Mediation may follow. If an agreement is still elusive, the case will eventually go to trial. Learn more
3. How are debts and assets divided in a divorce?
During the course of a marriage a couple accumulates both debts and assets. Those debts and assets must, therefore, be divided in a divorce. Tennessee requires an “equitable” division of marital debts and assets. Equitable does not necessarily mean “equal.” Instead, equitable means “fair.” Learn more about how debts and assets are divided in a Tennessee divorce.
4. How is custody decided in Tennessee?
Ideally, the parents of a minor child are able to work out issues surrounding the custody and visitation of the child without the need for a judge to intervene. Sometimes, however, an amicable agreement is not possible. In that case, a judge must decide who will have primary custody of the child. When that is the case, a judge must use the “best interest of the child” standard. In making the decision, a judge may consider a number of factors set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-106. Learn more.
5.Can a father get custody of a child in a divorce?
Once upon a time, it was presumed that a mother would get custody of minor children in a divorce unless there was a compelling reason to believe the mother was unfit. That presumption was rarely challenged because few fathers wanted custody of their children. Today, more and more fathers are fighting for – and winning – custody of their children. Learn more about fathers and custody.
6. What is a Parenting Agreement or Parenting Plan?
When a divorce involves minor children the court requires a Parenting Plan to be submitted and approved by the court. The Parenting Plan is essentially a parenting roadmap for the parents to follow post-divorce. Things such as time sharing, financial responsibility, and conflict resolution are all addressed in a Parenting Plan. Learn more.
7.How much will a divorce cost?
Understandably, you may be worried about the cost of a divorce. You have probably heard horror stories from friends or acquaintances who ran through their life savings trying to pay the legal fees associated with their divorce. That can happen; however, it a divorce can also be relatively inexpensive. There are a number of factors that will determine how much your divorce costs. The most important of those factors is how adversarial you and your spouse are throughout the divorce. The longer and harder the parties fight, the more expensive the legal fees will be as a general rule. Reaching an out of agreement, therefore, actually saves both of you time and money. Learn more.
8. How much child support will I have to pay?
If there are minor children involved in your divorce who will live with your spouse after the divorce you will likely be ordered to pay child support in the divorce. Failing to do so as ordered by the court can have serious consequences. The amount of child support you are ordered to pay will depend on several factors and will be based on the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. Learn more about child support.
If you are involved in a Tennessee divorce, you need an experienced Tennessee family law attorney on your side. Contact the team at Bennett & Michael today by calling 615-410-2454 to schedule your appointment.