If you find yourself in a position where the end of your marriage appears inevitable, there is no way around the legal process of divorce that follows. It is, however, possible to make the process of divorce relatively quick and amicable. That is only possible, however, if both parties are committed to avoiding a contentious divorce. If your divorce is uncontested, you may wonder if you really need a divorce lawyer. Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not to retain the services of a divorce lawyer; however, there are several reasons why you should consider doing so even if your divorce is uncontested.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
People often refer to a divorce as “uncontested ” without being clear on what they mean. Until relatively recently, the only way to secure a divorce from your spouse in many states, including Tennessee, was to prove fault on his/her part. The requirements for a divorce are governed by state law, meaning each state decides what grounds are acceptable when petitioning for divorce. Most states, including Tennessee, now allow a Petitioner to file a “no-fault” divorce. As the term implies, a no-fault divorce means there is no need to prove fault on the part of a spouse in order to be granted a divorce. While Tennessee offers a no-fault option, it also retained the option to file using fault grounds. As such, you can file for a no-fault divorce or you can file using one of the following fault grounds:
- Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs;
- Living apart for two years with no minor children;
- Inappropriate marital conduct;
- Willful or malicious desertion for one full year without a reasonable cause;
- Conviction of a felony;
- Pregnancy of the wife by another before the marriage without the husband’s knowledge;
- Refusal to move to Tennessee with your spouse and living apart for two years;
- Malicious attempt upon the life of another;
- Lack of reconciliation for two years after the entry of a decree of separate maintenance;
- Impotency and sterility;
- Bigamy; and
- Abandonment or refusal or neglecting to provide for spouse although able to do so.
If you choose to file using one of the fault grounds you can almost guarantee that your spouse will contest the allegations. If you file using the no-fault grounds, however, you have a better chance of getting through the process as an uncontested divorce.
Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?
A true uncontested divorce is one in which the Respondent (the other spouse) failed to file an Answer altogether or filed an initial Answer but then agreed to everything the Petitioner wants. If your divorce is uncontested, you might be tempted to try and go it alone, without legal representation. Before making that decision, consider the following reasons why it’s a good idea to work with a divorce lawyer even if your spouse isn’t contesting the divorce:
- Making sure you understand your rights. Whether you are the party filing for divorce or the Respondent, it is crucial that you understand all your rights in a divorce so you don’t end up with an unfair division of property, saddled with too much debt, paying too much in child support, or not getting enough child support.
- Covering all the issues. Dismantling a marriage requires you to resolve numerous issues, some of which are obvious, but some are not. It is easy to overlook something when you are trying to handle things by yourself, particularly in light of the fact that your emotions are likely on overload.
- You need an objective opinion. If a Marital Settlement Agreement has been reached by both parties, you need someone objective to review the terms for you. People often agree to things in a divorce that are clearly not in their best interest or are blatantly unfair simply because they want to get the divorce over with as soon as possible.
- Looking toward the future. It is difficult to think rationally when you are dealing with strong emotions. Often, this causes the parties to a divorce to think only in the moment instead of looking ahead. Consequently, they end up back in court not long after the divorce trying to fix errors or address issues that were left out the first time around.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about a divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.