The legal system can be intimidating under any circumstances. If your involvement with the legal system relates to a family law matter, navigating the legal system can seem even more complicated and foreboding. Family law legal matters are often the most difficult for everyone involved because they invariably involve heightened emotions. Whether you are contemplating divorce, planning to adopt, or being threatened with a contentious custody battle, you are likely worried about the outcome.
Although only an experienced family law attorney can answer specific questions about your unique set of facts and circumstances, some of the more common family law questions, along with answers, can be found below. If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the family law attorneys at Bennett & Michael.
1. What factors can be used to decide custody?
Ideally, the parties to a divorce are able to reach a mutually agreeable out of court marital settlement agreement that includes custody and visitation with any minor children of the marriage. When it becomes clear an agreement is not forthcoming, a court will have to decide using a “best interest of the child” standard. Learn more about what factors a judge may use when making custody decisions.
2. Can I move out of state with my child?
When the parents of a minor child divorce a Parenting Plan is usually submitted with the court. The Parenting Plan includes things such as parenting time arrangements for the child and plans for how to avoid conflicts down the road. Sometimes, however, circumstances change after the divorce. For example, if you are the primary residential parent and you now wish to move a significant distance away, you will need to get the child’s other parent to agree or petition the court for approval. Learn more.
3. Can a father get custody of his children?
Historically, the presumption was that the mother would be awarded custody of minor children in a divorce. Of course, few fathers ever wanted custody of their children so the presumption was rarely questioned. Times have changed though. Today, fathers are more involved in child rearing and many even fight for custody in a divorce. Learn more about how a father can get custody of his children.
4. What are the steps in a divorce?
A divorce begins when one spouse (the “Petitioner”) files a “Request (Complaint) for Divorce.” The Request must be served on the other spouse (the “Respondent”) to ensure that he/she is aware of the proceedings and is given an opportunity to respond. If the Respondent files a written “Answer” it means both parties are planning to actively participate in the process. If no Answer is filed, the Petitioner may request a default judgment after the required waiting period. Ideally, the parties are able to resolve all issues in a Marital Settlement Agreement without the need for lengthy, and costly, litigation. If an agreement is not possible, the Discovery process will begin wherein both sides provide relevant information to each other. Mediation may be ordered by the court in an attempt to avoid a trial. If contested issues remain, the case will be set for trial at which time the judge/jury will decide the outcome of those issues. Learn more about the Tennessee divorce process.
5. Do I need an attorney for an adoption?
Adoption can create a new family or add to an existing one. The end of the adoption process, therefore, is typically filled with joy and happiness; however, the road to get there can include a number of obstacles and roadblocks. Having an experienced Tennessee family law attorney on your side will ensure that those obstacles and roadblocks don’t prevent you from reaching the end of the road.
6. Can I confide in my divorce attorney?
Divorce is a highly emotional, and private, matter. If you are going through a divorce you may not feel inclined to discuss the particulars with anyone; however, your divorce attorney needs to know as much as possible about your situation in order to represent you to the best of his/her ability. Keep in mind that your relationship with your attorney is protected by law, meaning anything you tell your attorney will be kept in the strictest confidence. Learn more about the attorney-client relationship you have with your divorce attorney.
7. Can child support be modified?
When the parents of a minor child do not live together, child support is typically ordered to be paid by one parent to the other parent. Failing to pay your child support can have serious consequences; however, sometimes circumstances change that make paying support a serious hardship. Conversely, it may be that the support amount originally ordered is considerably less than it should be in light of a change in circumstances since the order was entered. When either is the case, it may be possible to modify the original child support order.
8. How long does it take to get divorced in Tennessee?
Once the decision has been made to pursue a divorce, people often want the process over and done and soon as possible. Like most states, Tennessee has a “waiting period” that requires the parties to wait at least 60 days after filing the petition if there are no minor children and at least 90 days if there are minor children of the marriage before the divorce can be finalized. A divorce can, however, take much longer if the divorce is contentious. Learn more.
If you are involved in a Tennessee family law matter, 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.