FAMILY LAW: THE BASICS
FAMILY LAW FAQS
I just got served with divorce papers. What are my next steps?
In Marion County, Rhea County, Sequatchie County, and throughout the state of Tennessee, you have 30 days to respond to your spouse after receiving divorce papers. It’s critical you issue an answer within this timeframe or else the partner who first filed may be issued a default judgment in their favor.
How long will it take to get divorced in Tennessee?
When filing for divorce, it will take a minimum of 60 days to complete due to mandatory waiting periods imposed by the state. However, if you have children, you must wait at least 90 days.
What are the grounds for divorce in Tennessee?
The majority of divorces in Tennessee are considered “no-fault” which means the only grounds that are needed to file are that the couple has irreconcilable differences. There is also an option to file for a “fault-based” divorce, which means that one of the spouses acted in such a way to cause the divorce. This could be due to things like infidelity, neglect or abuse, or drug or alcohol abuse.
Will I be awarded alimony?
Alimony (also called spousal support) is not required when a couple divorces but may be granted if one spouse earned considerably less than the other and needs temporary assistance post-divorce to reestablish their income source. Alimony is often needed if one spouse wasn’t earning a traditional income, such as being a stay-at-home parent.
What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?
A divorce will legally end your marriage while a legal separation won’t. That said, a legal separation will allow you to set certain terms for your relationship while maintaining benefits like health insurance, pensions, or insurance policies.
When is mediation a good option?
Mediation is always a good first step for divorcing couples. A mediator is often a low-cost, more efficient solution to working through difficult issues like deciding on child custody, child support, or asset division. That said, a mediator cannot make decisions for you; rather, they help facilitate productive conversations which requires the couple to be on relatively good speaking terms.
Who gets to keep the home during a divorce?
A divorcing couple has a few options for deciding who keeps the marital home. For example, they can sell the house and split the proceeds equally. Or, one spouse can stay in the home and pay the other for half of its value.
How do I make (or change) a child visitation schedule?
A child visitation schedule or modification should always be made through the courts. If both parents agree to the schedule, they can write it up and submit it to a judge for approval. If you cannot agree to a schedule, your best option is to contact a family law attorney. A lawyer can help you submit a petition to the courts to implement or change a visitation schedule that will then be reviewed by a judge.
I'm not sure I'm the child's father. What are my options?
Either parent can file a paternity suit with the courts if they believe the father is not the legal parent. Once the petition is received, a judge may order a genetic test that can establish legal paternity.
What are the benefits of a prenuptial agreement?
According to data put out by the state’s Department of Health, the rate of divorce in Tennessee has been steadily declining to its current 2020 rate of 3.2; however, many couples still wish to take some precautions in case their marriage ends in divorce using pre- & post-nuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement can be extremely helpful because it allows couples to have open and honest conversations about finances. It can also be useful for those who have children from a previous marriage and wish to protect an inheritance for them.
Do I need an attorney for my divorce?
The majority of divorcing couples find it necessary to use an attorney in some capacity, although it’s not required by law. An attorney can be very useful to help you understand your options, ensure you’re getting an equitable share of the marital assets, and see that a child custody agreement prioritizes the best interests of the child.