Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney
30 March 2016IN: Family Law
Answering your questions and addressing your concerns about divorce
The dissolution of a marriage is never easy. No matter how long or short the relationship, the size of the family unit, or a lack thereof, breaking apart what was originally established under better terms is never easy. It can be an event with life-altering implications. At The Law Office of David L. Scott, our Murfreesboro divorce attorney works one-on-one with you to ensure your best interests are protected. To help you understand the ins and outs of the process, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help guide your decision and address your concerns. For more information, we offer a free initial consultation in our Murfreesboro office.
Who can file for divorce in Tennessee?
Either party may file for divorce, the only prerequisite is having established residency in Tennessee for the six (6) months prior to filing. There are instances, however, as in cases of abuse, where the Court will hear a Petition before the mandatory time has passed.
What are the grounds for granting a divorce in Tennessee?
Unless the parties agree, the divorce is considered contested and the Court can apply any one of these factors in determining whether or not to grant a divorce:
- Habitual drunkenness
- Drug abuse
- Living apart for two years with no minor children – otherwise known as No Fault Divorce
- Inappropriate marital conduct
- Willful or malicious desertion for one full year without a reasonable cause
- Felony conviction
- Pregnancy of the wife by another man before the marriage, without the husband’s knowledge
- Refusal to move to Tennessee with your spouse and living apart for at least two years
- Malicious attempt upon the life of the spouse
- Lack of reconciliation within two years after the entry of a decree of separate maintenance;
- Neglecting to provide for spouse, although able to do so
If my divorce is uncontested, can one lawyer handle all the arrangements?
Due to a potential conflict of interest, one attorney should never represent both parties. It is always recommended that both individuals involved in the divorce proceedings be represented by their own legal counsel. This ensures everything is handled in a legal, Court-approved manner, including the creation and filing of pleadings and any Court appearances or hearings.
How long will the divorce take, and how much will it cost?
A good rule of thumb is to consider the complexity of the divorce before determining a proper time frame. In general, an uncontested divorce with no children is finalized after the minimum/mandatory 60 day waiting period. If children are involved, the waiting period is extended to 90 days. Contested divorces can take up to a year or more, on average, to be finalized. And since each case is different and the circumstances specific to the individuals involved, an estimated price is difficult to determine. Court costs alone can run between $100 to $500.
How is the marital property divided?
Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, but this does not mean things are always split down the middle 50/50. The Court can choose to alter the percentages based on need, or fairness, or based on the contributions of both parties to the marital whole.
If there is a child or children involved, how is child support and custody determined?
This is a very complex question. Tennessee follows the Department of Human Services Child Support Guidelines and said obligation cannot be contracted away by either party. An Income Share Model is used, and once the parents’ shares of the obligation are determined The Tennessee Schedule of Basic Child Support Guidelines indicates the amounts each owes.
As for custody, that’s even more complicated. The basic rule of thumb is what is in the best interest of the child. Some factors a Court may use in the decision include:
- Ability of each parent to create and encourage a close relationship between the child and other parent
- Each parent’s ability to teach, encourage and protect the child
- The attendance, or refusal to attend, a court-ordered parent education seminar
- Each parent’s ability to provide basic care – food, clothing, medical care, and education
- Length of time the parent has been the primary caregiver
- The character of each parent, including physical and emotional fitness
- Violent or abusive behavior to the child or other parent
- The child’s preference, if they are older than 12 years of age