Making the decision to end a marriage is the first in a long line of difficult decisions involved in the divorce process. Each of the decisions individually, and collectively, has the potential to have a significant and lasting impact on you and your family. If you have recently made the decisions to pursue a divorce, or you have been notified by your spouse that the decision has been made by him/her, you are likely feeling a bit apprehensive about the divorce process itself. Unless you have been through the divorce process before, you may also be concerned about your ability to navigate the often confusing judicial system. Given the personal nature of divorce, specific questions about your situation are best answered by an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney; however, it may help you to learn the answers to a few frequently asked general questions. Toward that end, a Smyrna divorce lawyer has prepared answers to the top three divorce questions:
- What are the basic requirements for a divorce in the State of Tennessee? The party filing for divorce must have been a resident for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. The petition must be filed in the county where both parties reside, or if the parties reside in different counties, in the county where the Respondent resides. The Petitioner must also allege grounds on which the divorce is sought. Tennessee offers two types of divorces – fault and no fault. No fault grounds are “irreconcilable differences.” If you choose to file on fault grounds, you must allege (and ultimately prove) at least one of the following:
- 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;
- Abandonment or refusal or neglecting to provide for spouse although able to do so.
- How long does the divorce process take? The time it takes to get through the divorce process can vary considerably. At a minimum, it will take 90 days from the date you file the Complaint for Divorce if you have minor children or 60 days if there are no minor children. This is referred to as a “cooling off” period and must run out before the divorce can be finalized even if you both agree to everything. Beyond that, the biggest factor impacting the amount of time it takes to finalize your divorce is the extent to which the divorce is adversarial. Or, put another way, the more amicable and civil the parties are during the divorce negotiations the faster the divorce can be finalized in most cases.
- Does the mother always get custody of the minor children? Not all that long ago, both society and the law operated on the presumption that minor children should remain with the mother after a divorce absent a showing that the mother was unfit or negligent. That presumption no longer exists in the law. Now, custody of minor children is based solely on the “best interest of the child” standard that requires the court to make all decisions relating to the children on what is in their best interest. Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-6-106 sets forth factors that a judge may consider when deciding what is in a child’s best interest. If, after consider all relevant factors, awarding custody to a father is in the child’s best interest that is exactly what the court should do.
If you are planning to file for divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby before doing anything official. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.