Filing a divorce is a life changing event. Often, we don’t realize how much that is true until we are faced with the realities of divorce and separation, many of which we do not anticipate. A Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses how to address financial needs and obligations during your divorce.
When a divorce is filed, the court issues a statutory injunction pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 36-4-106. This injunction applies to both parties equally. It is designed to do several things, such as prevent dissipation of marital assets, but its overarching purpose is to help maintain the “status quo” during the pendency of the divorce. Many times, a spouse will give little thought to financial needs and obligations before they file and how they will address them while the divorce process goes forward. While the parties may eventually reach agreements about how to address finances, time is of the essence because mortgage and bill payments will not wait.
When parties cannot agree on how to address financial obligations during the pendency of the divorce, a pendente lite hearing is appropriate. Not only can a pendente lite hearing address mortgages and bills, but it can also address temporary issues about alimony, attorney fees necessary to support the divorce process itself, child support, custody, and parenting time. Many pendente lite hearings address all these issues and yield a court order for the parties to follow until the divorce is complete. It is important to note that all orders generated from a pendente lite hearing are temporary, and may be changed or terminated by further orders, or final court orders at the conclusion of the divorce.
Temporary alimony, to include attorney fees, may be awarded to either party who needs such assistance because of a lack of financial resources or separate property, and where the party is prosecuting the divorce action in good faith. If the court finds that temporary alimony is merited, it can be awarded as cash, usually in monthly installments, or by ordering that the spouse in need receive “in kind” support, such as payment of mortgages or bills for the spouse who is financially able.
Awarding temporary spousal support (alimony) is within the discretion of the court at a pendente lite hearing. The court will consider the needs of a financially disadvantaged spouse and the other spouse’s ability to pay alimony. In doing so, the court considers factors such as relative incomes and expenses, and other financial obligations, while weighing them against the existing financial resources of both parties.
Temporary orders about custody and child support may also issue after a pendente lite hearing. Prior to these hearings, each party is required to file a proposed temporary parenting plan and present evidence at the hearing to support why they believe the plan is in the best interest of their child(ren). At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge or a designated special master will either adopt one of the parenting plans or craft one of their own based on the evidence presented. The goal of the court is to allow each parent maximum participation in the parenting of each child consistent with the factors of Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-106.
Once the court decides the parenting schedule, the parenting days the court alots to each parent is entered into a child support worksheet along with other required items such as the gross monthly incomes of the parties, the cost of childcare, and the cost of the children’s monthly health care premiums. Parties also receive credits based on other children in the home or for children out of the home but for which they are paying child support. The child support worksheet is based on an income shares model pursuant to the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, which is accessible online. Once all input is entered into the child support form, it produces an obligated child support amount for the appropriate parent.
In any divorce, even seemingly simple ones, there are several potential issues you will be required to address, both on a temporary and permanent basis. In doing consulting with an experienced divorce attorney who can craft the appropriate strategy for your entire case is essential. Properly addressing temporary issues can be critical to the overall success of your entire divorce litigation effort. If your attorney is not vigilant enough to think and plan properly, you may be stuck with a “temporary” result for the long haul. There are lots of attorneys who advertise themselves as “divorce lawyers,” who merely dabble as a source of extra income. So do your homework before hiring a divorce attorney and choose wisely!
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney
If you have additional questions about your divorce it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.