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Divorce Law FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Tennessee Divorce & Family Law

Reliable guidance from a skilled Nashville attorney

What are the general differences in cost between contested and uncontested divorces?
In general, a contested divorce will cost five to ten times more than an uncontested divorce, not to mention the emotional costs.

What is an annulment?
In limited situations, a marriage can be annulled, or voided. Those are unusual, most people will end up getting a divorce.

Does adultery affect a divorce case?
Adultery can affect a divorce case in a number of ways, including alimony, attorney’s fees. In situations where a paramour has been exposed to a child, adultery may even affect custody.

Can the court make a decision on where a primary parent lives in a custody case?
A court cannot tell an adult where to live, but they can say where a child lives. If a court says a child must live in one place, and the primary parent decides to live somewhere else, the court can certainly change the primary parent.

How long does an uncontested divorce generally take?
In Tennessee, at least 60 days must pass between filing the divorce and entry of a final order if there are no kids, 90 days with children. Under some circumstances, those may be possible, but realistically, that process is usually more like four to six months.

What is the general process for filing for divorce?
One party, usually through an attorney, writes up and files a Petition for Divorce with the appropriate Court. The other party has to be served. That party has time to answer the Petition, and often will file a Counter-Petition. Once all the pleadings are filed and served, the case moves forward.

Do parents have custody rights to their children when they are unmarried?
While unmarried fathers may not have custody rights without a Court Order, once a parent goes to Court, their custody rights should not be based on whether they are married to the other parent, but on the child’s best interest.

What happens when either I or my estranged spouse refuses to sign divorce documents?
If there is no agreement, then there is a contested case. Nobody has to ‘give’ anyone a divorce, if a person is entitled to one, they can get one, but the process gets more complicated.

What happens at a default divorce hearing?
If one party is in default, the other party pretty much gets what they asked for. Sometimes that may be almost automatic, in some cases the party not in default will still have to present proof, but the defaulting party does not get to present a case.

What is the difference between a fault-based divorce and a no-fault divorce?
In the end, nothing; a divorce is a divorce. Along the way, no-fault generally means the parties reached an agreement, which likely saved time, money and heartache.

What are the general guidelines of alimony?
Alimony is based on many, many factors, but the most important are the financial need of the party seeking alimony, and the ability to pay of the other party. Length of marriage and the earning potential of each spouse will likely also factor in.

Does a divorce decree have a statute of limitations?
No, once a person is divorced, they are divorced forever.

How are assets divided in a divorce with no prenuptial agreement?
In Tennessee and many other states, the court will equitably divide the assets acquired by either party during the marriage, regardless of how they may be titled. An equitable distribution is often an equal distribution, but not necessarily.

What do I need to start the divorce process?
You will want to have at least three years of financial records, plus a clear statement about your reasons for divorce and your goals. Take all of that to an attorney, hire them, and do exactly what they advise you to do.

What is a legal separation?
Sometimes people want the Court to get involved in protecting their rights when they separate from a spouse, but they don’t wish to get divorced. In my experience, this is not as common as it used to be, but may be a good tool for people who feel like there is some hope for reconciliation, just not right now.

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