Tennessee law allows a process for divorce that significantly reduces the emotional burden and the expense of protracted litigation. You do not have to have an attorney to file for divorce. However, proceed with caution if you are filing without legal representation. Make sure you do not agree to something you will later regret.
Here is a quick overview of the process of an uncontested divorce.
Who Qualifies for Uncontested Divorce?
Not everyone qualifies for Tennessee’s streamlined uncontested divorce procedure. Both you and your husband or wife must meet the following requirements:
- You both lived in the state for the last six months
- You have no minor children born of the marriage
- Both of you agree to dissolve your marriage
- You own no business or real estate together and have no retirement accounts
- You have reached a full personal property settlement agreement
If any single one of the above requirements is not met, you do not qualify for Tennessee’s uncontested divorce procedure. If you do not qualify but still want an affordable, painless divorce, we have 3 divorce services designed specifically for you.
If you and your spouse meet all of the listed requirements, you can begin the filing process. Before you do, be sure to read How To Get An Agreed Divorce In Tennessee. This form was put together by the state to educate people the procedure.
Starting the Process
The divorce case is filed in the county that you live in. If you have already separated, and you live in separate counties, you can bring the action in either county. The following completed forms must be filed to begin the divorce process:
- The divorce petition
- Spousal personal information form
- Personal property settlement agreement
- Health insurance notice
- Divorce hearing notice
Some counties might require additional paperwork pursuant to local rules. Be sure to check with your county’s court clerk to be sure of exactly what forms are needed. You can either print all necessary forms off of the internet, or you can go to your local court clerk’s offices to pick up an uncontested divorce form package. Any additional forms that might be required in your county will likely be in that package.
How Long Does It Take?
There will be a minimum of 60 days between date of filing and date of hearing. The court clerk in your county will schedule you for the first available date. He or she wants your divorce finalized too.
Do I Have To Go To The Divorce Hearing?
The presiding judge might have questions for both of you, so both parties should be present at the divorce hearing. If your paperwork is in order on your hearing date, you could be divorced that day. On the other hand, you might leave the hearing still married. The divorce does not become final until the judge signs off on your decree.
Getting a divorce is expensive. I’m sure you have heard horror stories. We all have. As a divorce lawyer, I can tell you that unfortunately, those stories come true more often than you’d like to think. However, there is good news: you can follow a few simple steps to save money during a divorce.
Manage Spending During Divorce Process
Reduce Attorney Fees
Yes, getting a divorce costs money – there is no way around that – but you do not have to spend an arm and a leg on lawyer fees. It might seem crazy for me, a divorce attorney, to encourage you to spend less with your lawyer, but that’s exactly why I offer affordable, set pricing for 3 of the most common kinds of divorce.
If you are paying by the hour, reduce costs by preparing yourself before consulting with your lawyer. Just having your documents and questions in order will put you ahead of the curve.
Do Not Indulge in Emotional Shopping
Times of high stress and high emotion often lead people to binge shop. Some people are encouraged to spend all they can during the divorce, especially if they have access to joint bank accounts or credit cards. The reality is that spending sprees will leave you with less at the end and may come back to bite you when assets are being divvied up.
Fight for Your Assets (And Recognize That No One Wins)
Forget About Emotional Entitlement
Along with emotional spending, another strong emotional reaction during a divorce is emotional entitlement. Be careful not to give up too much when fighting for one prized possession. You can always buy new things.
You will both walk away feeling like you’ve lost something important
The reality of divorce is that it comes down to compromise, and you will both feel like you have lost something. You may want to fight for the iTunes collection that you painstakingly curated over the years, but if the collection is worth $400 and it costs you $1,000 in legal fees and compromises to fight for it, then it is time to walk away.
Do Not Leave Anything on the Table
While you need to know when to walk away from a costly fight over a possession, you also need to fight for your entire half. Assets and debts are equally shared in marriage. Sometimes one party will feel obligated to take less than their share during the divorce out of sympathy or guilt. While it might seem like the charitable thing to do in the short-term, in the long run, leaving money on the table often seems foolish.
Plan for Post-Divorce Costs
Assets with High Maintenance
If you got the house in the divorce, you may have won the biggest battle. However, maintaining a house comes with its own costs. As you consider your post-divorce life, do not forget to account for things like real estate taxes, insurance, and general home repair and maintenance. It adds up quickly.
Plan for Taxes
Consult an accountant or financial advisor if you have one about the tax implications of your divorce. You do not want to get hit with an unexpected, large bill from the IRS.
Going through a divorce is difficult enough without overspending on the process. Keep these tips in mind to help stay on track and on budget. If you need professional advice, contact my office to setup an initial consultation.
Affairs can destroy a marriage, and when it comes to divorce, they can really complicate the matter. In the state of Tennessee, adultery can be grounds for a divorce in and of itself. If you and/or your spouse are considering a divorce and an affair is a contributing factor, it’s imperative to understand how adultery can affect and impact the process.
Divorce on the Grounds of Infidelity
As previously mentioned, Tennessee recognizes adultery as a sole grounds for divorce, meaning that a judge can officially end a marriage if a spouse is able to prove that adultery took place. It’s important to know, however, that allegations are not enough; one must definitively prove that the affair occurred.
Division of Property
In most cases, even if an affair is proven, it will not affect the division of the property. Tennessee is a state that follows the rules of equitable distribution, which means that all marital assets are divided fairly. The judge will consider the needs of each spouse and the contributions he or she made to the marriage. Depending on the state, however, usually one cannot factor adultery into the division of property.
The one exception is if it is proven that one spouse used joint funds in order to support the adultery. In cases like these, the court may subtract this amount from the portion allotted to the partner in question.
While property division is typically not impacted by adultery, the same cannot be said for alimony, or spousal support. The purpose of alimony is to ensure that the spouses are able to maintain their lifestyle after the divorce is finalized. Like property division, the court will consider the needs of the spouses and their ability to hold a job and earn their living.
While alimony is never used as a means to punish a spouse, it is possible that, in cases where it is determined that the offended spouse was so devastated as to make working harder or impossible, the judge may choose to increase the required alimony.
Defense After Adultery
While an affair can complicate the divorce process, it is not necessarily true that adultery will automatically lead the judge to dissolve the marriage. There are three possible defenses that a Tennessee resident can use in order to mitigate the damages following adultery. This includes:
- Recrimination: in cases where both spouses had an affair, neither can use this as grounds for divorce.
- Connivance: adultery cannot be used as grounds for divorce if the “wronged” spouse took part in encouraging the affair.
- Condonation: reconciliation in which the wronged spouse forgives and reconciles with the unfaithful partner; if the wronged spouse claims adultery later on, the court can dismiss it.
Divorce is a difficult and trying life event, which can have a negative emotional impact on the couple splitting, as well as and, most importantly, their children. Although there may be no specific set of guidelines for divorced parents to follow, they can avoid a number of pitfalls that could make an already tough situation worse.
Avoid Being Unaccommodating
This is particularly true in the case of the parent who is moving out of the family house. An important part of helping your children through the divorce process is providing them with as comfortable and as stable of a living environment as possible.
If it is you who is moving into a new residence, it is critical to choose a place where your children will feel “at home.” Make sure they will have a room to sleep in. In addition, do not turn the place into a bachelor/bachelorette pad. Decorate the new place with items from the old house and be sure to hang pictures of your children on the walls or place on desks. If you are remaining in the family home, do not rush to pack away anything your ex might have left behind and avoid rearranging furniture or doing any major redecorating for a while.
Do Not Speak Ill Of Your Former Spouse
When you speak badly about your ex, past hurt is rehashed, which places your children in the middle of a delicate situation. The split has been hard enough on them as it is. It is unfair to place yet another emotional burden on their shoulders. It is more advisable to hold your ex in the highest light possible. Highlight his or her personal and professional accomplishments and always insist your children show him or her the same level of respect you would want them to display to you.
Do Not Date Until The Divorce Is Official
Wait until one facet of your life is complete before delving into another one. Dating prematurely can confuse your children and give them more emotional burdens than they are yet prepared to handle. It is recommended you use the time until the divorce is finalized as an opportunity to let your children adjust to what will be a new life and circumstances.
Do Not Forget About Your Kids
Include your children in your new life. Invite them to your new place, call them frequently and attend their athletic and scholastic events.
Do Not Spoil Your Children
There is no shame in providing your kids what they need and purchasing gifts when and where appropriate, but it can be deleterious to spoil them. Children are smart and can see through this tactic; drawing the conclusion you are trying to “buy them off” to assuage your guilt over what happened.
When in doubt, consult with a professional divorce attorney who can assist you in avoiding the typical pitfalls of divorce – and help you make a smooth transition into your new lifestyle.
It is no secret that the divorce process is incredibly difficult and often heartbreaking. When times get tough, otherwise-rational minded people can overreact, or act in a way that proves detrimental to the process. We know how overwhelming the entire process is, so we have highlighted a few behaviors to be aware of when you are navigating the rough waters of divorce.
Watch Your Words
As the old adage goes,”If you cannot say something nice, do not say anything at all.” With the ease of today’s modern technology, you never know when your ex is recording your interactions. It is very common to have recorded conversations brought out during divorce proceedings, and if you have spoken harshly — out of frustration or anger — your words can be used against you in the future.
Always keep your hands to yourself. If you make physical contact against your soon-to-be spouse, particularly if it is harmful or aggressive, you are committing a crime. The physical interaction may be considered battery or assault, both of which will prove detrimental for your case. No matter how upset you get throughout the divorce process, you will never have a judge side with you if you are physical with the other person.
Moving Too Fast
Refrain from moving too fast into a new relationship. Aside from allowing yourself time to heal, moving in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend before the divorce is finalized is frowned upon. Children have a difficult time when their parents go through a divorce. It is hard for them to understand that their parents no longer love each other in the same way, and that they will no longer be living together as a family. Moving in with a significant other only adds insult to injury, where time can provide everyone the chance to settle and move forward.
No matter how angry you are at your spouse, failing to pay child support ultimately hurts the child and, in turn, your divorce. The law demands child support is paid; failing to do so is considered contempt of court. If the judge finds you are in contempt, you can be fined or put in jail.
Removing Your Child
If you have a planned trip away, it is necessary to coordinate the dates and travel with your spouse. It will be viewed as an attempt at kidnapping if you leave the area with your child without making a prior arrangement with your ex. It is also likely your restricted visitation with the child, or your custody, will be terminated.
It is important to consult with a professional divorce attorney to determine the behaviors you should, and should not, undertake while filings and proceedings are underway. When it doubt, remember it is better to be safe than to be sorry.