Finding the perfect person to marry and raise a family with is a goal for many individuals. With visions of the future together, it can be painful to come to the realization that a marriage isn’t going to work. Despite the best of intentions, saving the relationship may not be possible. Before filing for divorce, however, it’s important to understand Tennessee statutes in order to know how the laws will affect you.
One of the primary concerns many parents have is the impact a divorce could place on their children. No parent wants to see their children upset and confused over the issues that come along with ending a marriage. Once a couple has filed for divorce, it is necessary to resolve child custody and support matters.
In Nashville, as in the rest of Tennessee, there are two forms of child custody: legal and physical. Both of these types can be sole or joint, making four custody combinations. When the court rules on child custody, the decisions are always based on what is in the best interests of the children.
When determining the appropriate custody arrangement, the court will review many factors, such as the mental health of each parent and the quality of the relationship each caregiver has with the children.
It is the responsibility of each parent to contribute financially to the welfare of children. When a divorce happens, the court works to establish a proper child support payment schedule and amount. Some factors that contribute to the outcome of child support include:
- The amount of parenting time and overnight visits
- The combined gross income of both parents
- The number of children
The court evaluates each case on an individual basis, taking the unique factors into consideration. Health care costs and other expenses associated with raising children are also used to assess the final support payment amount.
With a divorce, comes the often-difficult task of dividing property in a way in which both spouses will agree. Debts and assets acquired during a marriage in Tennessee belong to both parties. The court has a bit of discretion in allocating property between spouses and, as such, dividing items is not always clear cut.
Division Of Property
The Tennessee courts use equitable distribution guidelines for property allocation. The two types of property types are split into categories – marital or separate. Some examples of separate property may include an inheritance or a birthday gift. In equitable property division, the court strives to achieve a fair and reasonable property settlement for both spouses.
Although a judge will weigh many factors to arrive at a final decision on property division, spouses’ financial needs are primary considerations. Some of the assets and debts which are commonly divided include:
- Real estate
- Automobiles, boats and motorcycles
- Rare collections, such as baseball cards
- Household items, such as clothing and furnishings
- Bank accounts, stocks, bonds and pensions
- Credit card debt and other liabilities
- Pensions, 401(k)s, stocks and bonds
Ending a marriage is a highly personal decision, and what is right for one couple may not be the right avenue for another divorcing pair. In Tennessee, as an alternative to divorce, couples can also get legally separated or file an annulment.
In a legal separation, a couple will address the same issues of a divorce, such as dividing assets and determining child custody; however, the marriage is not dissolved. The couple will live separately and only have the restriction of remarriage. In order to marry someone new in the future, it is necessary to seek a divorce to end the previous marriage. Pursuing a legal separation over a divorce may be done for religious or financial reasons.
Unlike filing for divorce where couples can cite irreconcilable differences, an annulment requires providing evidence to the court that certain conditions exist. An annulled marriage is treated as though it never legally happened. When a marriage involves bigamy or incest, the union was never legal from the start. In marriages involving fraud, force, underage spouses or mental incapacity, the partnership has a firm standing of being treated as a “voidable” union by the court.
The Tennessee court system recognizes alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a productive and helpful way to reach agreements with a spouse while in the divorce process. Spouses meet with a skilled mediator, often a judge or a lawyer, and negotiate with one another to resolve issues. Some of the key advantages to ADR include:
- Saving money
- Faster than an adversarial process (requires that issues are uncontested)
- Conducted in a less formal environment than a courtroom
The divorce process can be intimidating. Sorting through every aspect of the issues and knowing which decisions are the right ones to make can be challenging. When finalizing a divorce, getting reliable legal information can help in the effort to transition smoothly through the entire proceeding.
Having a lawyer represent your interests can be beneficial when it’s time to sign legally binding contracts and in helping you make the choices that will be advantageous to your future. Whether you have questions regarding child custody matters or are concerned about dividing a family business, an experienced divorce lawyer can assist in every area.
The lawyer you choose to represent your interests can make a difference in the final settlement. It’s important to select an attorney with experience helping other families in Nashville transition through divorce. Equally important, it’s a wise choice to hire the lawyer that is interested in working hard for you to help you accomplish your goals.
To begin the divorce process or learn more about the legal options available to you, fill out the care review form to speak with with a experienced local Nashville divorce attorney.