It goes without saying that a couple on the verge of divorce is certainly not happily married. Beyond that, the pre-divorce atmosphere can be anything from complete indifference to overt rage. By the same token, initiating the divorce process can also cause a wide range of reactions. Sometimes filing for divorce effectively releases a pressure valve and both parties actually appear to deflate now that the decision has finally been made. With other couples, however, the decision to divorce sets off a powder keg. If abuse was already a problem, it can get worse once the prospect of divorce is brought up. If you find yourself in just such a situation, you may find yourself asking “Can my divorce attorney help me get a protective order?”
Tennessee Divorce Basics
Unless you have been through a divorce before, navigating the divorce process can be stressful and often confusing. While no two divorces encompass the same facts and circumstances, the divorce process includes the same basic steps for everyone. A divorce officially begins when one party files a Complaint or Petition for Divorce. The party who files is known as the Petitioner. The other party (the “Respondent”) must be served with the petition. The Respondent then has a statutory period of time within which to file a written Answer with the court. If the Respondent fails to file an Answer, the Petitioner may ask for a default judgment. If the Respondent does file an Answer, the parties then move forward with the litigation. Eventually, the parties either reach an out of court settlement that resolves all issues in the divorce or the matter is set for trial.
Preliminary Matters – Restraining Orders
Outside of the divorce process, the victim of abuse may petition a civil court for a Protective Order as a form of protection against further abuse. If, however, you have filed for divorce, or plan to file, the court will automatically enter a number of injunctions that restrain the parties from certain conduct while the divorce is pending. Pursuant to Tennessee Code Section 36-4-106(d):
Upon the filing of a petition for divorce or legal separation, and upon personal service of the complaint and summons on the respondent or upon waiver and acceptance of service by the respondent, the following temporary injunctions shall be in effect against both parties until the final decree of divorce or order of legal separation is entered, the petition is dismissed, the parties reach agreement, or until the court modifies or dissolves the injunction, written notice of which shall be served with the complaint:
- An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from transferring, assigning, borrowing against, concealing or in any way dissipating or disposing, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, of any marital property.
- An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from voluntarily canceling, modifying, terminating, assigning, or allowing to lapse for nonpayment of premiums, any insurance policy, including, but not limited to, life, health, disability, homeowners, renters, and automobile, where such insurance policy provides coverage to either of the parties or the children, or that names either of the parties or the children as beneficiaries without the consent of the other party or an order of the court. “Modifying” includes any change in beneficiary status.
- An injunction restraining both parties from harassing, threatening, assaulting or abusing the other and from making disparaging remarks about the other to or in the presence of any children of the parties or to either party’s employer.
- An injunction restraining and enjoining both parties from hiding, destroying or spoiling, in whole or in part, any evidence electronically stored or on computer hard drives or other memory storage devices.
- An injunction restraining both parties from relocating any children of the parties outside the state of Tennessee, or more than one hundred (100) miles from the marital home, without the permission of the other party or an order of the court, except in the case of a removal based upon a well-founded fear of physical abuse against either the fleeing parent or the child.
As you can see, the court will automatically order both parties to refrain from abusing or harassing the other party. If, however, your situation requires stronger measures, consult with your Tennessee divorce attorney about additional options you may have.
Contact a Tennessee Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.