Divorce Attorney

couple finances

Divorce is never a pleasant experience and the decision to file for divorce is often a complicated one. The practical, emotional, and financial issues involved in any divorce action can be overwhelming.

However, in certain cases, people find that a divorce is necessary in order to lead a better and more peaceful life. When there is no possibility of reconciliation between spouses, we are here to help guide you through the divorce process in as dignified a manner as possible.

Do you have questions about divorce, child custody or other family law issues? Call us today for a FREE consultation with an attorney. We can make sure your rights are protected. Call today!

In Tennessee, there are two ways in which a couple can be divorced. You and your spouse can file an uncontested divorce action (known as an Agreed Divorce) or one of you can initiate a contested divorce action. An agreed divorce means both spouses are agreeable to the divorce and the terms and are willing to sign both a Parenting Plan (if children are involved) and a Marital Dissolution Agreement (which divides all assets and debts). If one spouse refuses to sign or there is no agreement regarding the terms, then a contested divorce must be filed.

If you and your spouse wish to file an uncontested or agreed divorce action, you must have agreed upon both the division of your property and debts in advance. If there are children involved, you must have agreed to all co-parenting issues prior to filing for divorce. Those co-parenting issues include the following: a co-parenting schedule, both for the school year and all holidays, primary parent designation, decision making authority for extracurricular activities, non-emergency healthcare issues, religion and education; which parent will carry health insurance and how uninsured costs will be split; how tax deductions will be handled; and which parent will provide the transportation and where the place of exchange shall be located.

Once a parenting schedule is agreed upon, an Income Shares Child Support Worksheet will be run by your attorney. The Worksheet requires the following information: gross monthly incomes of both parties; co-parenting days; health insurance and daycare costs; and whether either party has other children. The obligation according to the Worksheet will then be incorporated into your Parenting Plan.

Agreed divorces also require a Marital Dissolution Agreement or “MDA.” This document will set forth your agreement regarding the division of your marital property and debt. Routine items addressed in an MDA will include division of banking and retirement accounts, vehicles, real property and any equity therein, personal property such as furniture, and any and all debts, whether credit cards, medical or otherwise and whether alimony or attorneys fees will be paid.

distressed manOnce both parties have approved,  signed and notarized the documents, the papers will be submitted to the Court and the mandatory waiting period will begin to run – sixty [60] days if there are no minor children involved, ninety [90] days if there are minor children involved.

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Once the waiting period has expired, a court date will be set. Only the Plaintiff needs to appear at the Final Hearing, and it is not necessary to have any witnesses for an irreconcilable differences divorce. After a short hearing, a divorce should be granted that day and the Final Decree of Divorce will be final after the thirty (30) day appeal period has run. During that thirty (30) day period you are divorced, however, since the decree is not yet final, we urge our clients not to remarry until this time period has expired. Any requested name changes are found in the Final Decree.

A traditional contested divorce action is necessary when the parties cannot agree on an issue, such as the division of property or debt, alimony, co-parenting of the children, child support, or attorneys’ fees, a party refuses to sign the documents, or a party cannot be found. In this event, grounds for divorce must be alleged in the Complaint and proven (or stipulated to) at the Final Hearing or Trial.

A contested divorce is initiated by the filing of a Complaint signed by the Plaintiff. Accompanying the Complaint is the mandatory Notice of Injunction, Summons, and Proposed Parenting Plan if children are involved. The Notice of Injunction applies to both spouses and prohibits either from dissipating, hiding, transferring or encumbering any martial assets, or cancelling any insurance policies while the divorce is pending. Once the Defendant spouse has been served, they have thirty days with which to file an Answer.

If no Answer is filed, the Plaintiff may move for a Default Judgment by setting the case for a hearing. At the Default hearing, the Plaintiff will testify, along with two witnesses. If the Defendant does not appear, the Plaintiff will be granted a divorce that day. If an Answer is filed, then the parties will schedule and attend mediation as well as participate in discovery. Discovery includes both interrogatories (a list of written questions and requests for documents that must be answered under Oath) and depositions.

Do you have questions about divorce, child custody or other family law issues? Call us today for a FREE consultation with an attorney. We can make sure your rights are protected. Call today!

Attorney Sarah Easter

Mediation is a required process that must occur before the parties can go to trial. Mediation can occur before or after discovery. Mediation is a confidential process whereby the parties and their lawyers come together and try to reach a settlement with the help of a third party, neutral mediator. This mediator is often also a lawyer. Although participation in mediation is mandatory, the parties are not required to come to an agreement. However, mediation is very successful in settling cases due to the expense and time that is involved with taking a case to trial.

If an agreement is reached, the parties will sign a Mediated Agreement, which is a binding contract. The terms of the Mediated Agreement are then drafted into a Parenting Plan (if applicable) and MDA or Final Judgment and submitted to the Court for approval. At that point, only a Final Hearing (like in an agreed divorce) is needed to finalize the divorce.

Should mediation fail, the parties will proceed with obtaining a trial date and preparing their case. At trial, each party will testify and may each call relevant witnesses and introduce documents and evidence. Once the proof is complete, the Judge will render a ruling on parenting, alimony, and division of assets and debts. Once the Final Judgment or Order has been signed by the Judge, each party has thirty days to file an appeal if they believe the trial court has made an error.