People arrive at the decision to end a marriage in many different ways and under a seemingly endless number of circumstances. Sometimes, the desire to end a marriage is the direct result of allegedly egregious behavior on the part of one spouse, such as adultery, abuse or addiction. In other marriages, the couple simply grows apart. Just as there are numerous reasons why a couple may decide to divorce, the law in the State of Tennessee offers a number of different grounds that may be used when petitioning for divorce. In addition, a divorce can be contested or uncontested. If you are planning to legally end your marriage and believe your divorce will be a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you may be wondering if you still need a divorce attorney. Although that is a decision that you must ultimately make for yourself, there are a number of reasons why you should not attempt to go through even an uncontested divorce without the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney.
What Does It Mean If a Divorce Is Uncontested?
The term “uncontested divorce” is frequently used by the public; however, it can have different meanings to different people. It helps to clear up the confusion first before discussing the need for legal representation. Until relatively recently, the only way to secure a divorce from your spouse 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 fault grounds from the past when it added a no-fault option. Therefore, you can also file for divorce using any 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.
When a party says their divorce is “uncontested,” sometimes they mean it is a no-fault divorce while other times they mean the Respondent (the other spouse) either failed to file an Answer altogether or is agreeing to everything the Petitioner wants.
Why a Divorce Attorney Is Important
Ideally, your divorce will be uncontentious and all issues in the divorce will be resolved without the need for costly and time-consuming litigation. Unfortunately, that is now always how things work out in a divorce. That possibility that your divorce will turn adversarial overnight is just one reason why you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney before moving forward with your divorce. Other reasons why it is in your best interest to have a divorce attorney on your side include:
- Understanding 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.
- Using proper language – the average party to a divorce is not a lawyer and, therefore, has no reason to be familiar with legal terminology. That, however, can be a big problem if you are trying to represent yourself in a divorce. The presence or absence of a single word can make a big difference sometimes, particularly when it comes to titling property.
- Thinking ahead – unlike many other legal matters, a divorce is highly emotional in nature. 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 Tennessee Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating a divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.