What Are The Options Available For A Couple To Proceed With A Divorce In Tennessee?
One of the options available is a legal separation, but our firm does not recommend that option instead of a divorce. The steps for acquiring a legal separation are the same as a divorce and there is a time limit for how long you can remain legally separated. There are few advantages to choosing a legal separation. It’s going to cost the same amount of money, time, and anguish as a divorce will and you end up being in a status where you can’t move on with your life.
The only reason that a person might choose to do a legal separation is for insurance reasons. Sometimes people need private insurance that’s provided by the spouse which would go away in a divorce.
When you file for divorce, if there is a minor child or minor children, the process is slightly different because you will have to file a proposed parenting plan. In a divorce, the two major issues are financial division and dealing with the children.
The financial division issue is determining how the spouses are going to distribute their marital assets and debts. With the children, they will have to decide how to parent the children, now that each spouse will live in separate places.
We file divorce complaints on two grounds. One is called “inappropriate marital conduct” and the other is called “irreconcilable differences.” The reason we file under two grounds is we don’t know if a divorce is going to be contested or uncontested. Clients often think they have an uncontested divorce, but usually do not. There are many factors that people have not considered when they think that they have an uncontested divorce, and when those factors are uncovered, there are disagreements. Divorces are always contested until they’re not. If you reach an agreement out of court, you will have an uncontested divorce. If you cannot reach an agreement out of court, you will have a trial, which is a contested divorce.
If you have a trial, the court will typically award a divorce under either inappropriate marital conduct or some other suitable grounds. But if you reach an agreement out of court, you get divorced on the ground of irreconcilable differences, sometimes called no-fault divorce.
Once you file the complaint, the other party has to be properly served with the complaint. The other party has 30 days to file a written response with the court and the complainant’s attorney.
If the other party does not respond within 30 days, you can apply to the court for a default divorce. Once they do respond, your attorney has the ability to conduct discovery. We are allowed to know all relevant information that we want to know about the other side and they’re allowed to know all relevant information they want to know about our side. The process of exchanging that information is called discovery.
We have to divide the debts and assets, so we need to make sure that we know what all the debts and assets are. Important debts and assets could be things like owning a business or a home. If you do have a marital home, we are going to estimate the value of the home to compare it against the mortgage that’s still owed to determine what the likely equity is in the home. IRAs and retirement plans are big assets that need to be defined. The other side of that financial coin is determining what debts exist. Do you have student loans, credit card debts, how much is the mortgage on the house? Do you owe for the cars that you are driving?
The combination of the debts and assets is called “the marital estate.” The marital estate generally consists of everything, debt or asset, that has come to one or both of the parties during the marriage. There are some exceptions to that general rule. A major exception is inheritance. But even an inheritance can be turned into a marital asset under certain circumstances, A common question that people have is if one party has greater use of an asset or if that asset is in that party’s name, does the other spouse have a claim to that asset. Generally, it does not matter in which spouse’s name an asset is titled.
The discovery process determines what the marital estate is; what debts & assets people have.
Once the discovery process is complete, parties must go to mediation before going to a trial in front of the judge. Most divorces do settle in mediation. A lot of people think that that person is never going to agree to anything in mediation. Mediators are trained to take people who have conflicts and help them reach agreements. Just because you have a conflict doesn’t mean that mediation isn’t going to work. People recognize that it is to their advantage to settle their differences in mediation rather than to go to court and have a trial.
Mediation is the best use of your divorce dollars. It costs more money to go to trial. In a trial, the judge has to follow rules that you don’t have to follow in mediation. You can be as creative as you want in mediation within certain limits. You get to be the captain of your fate in mediation. You get to help resolve the situation and come up with a solution. Going to trial means the judge will decide what happens to your debts and assets and what happens to your children.
Mediation is a great tool to help people resolve their divorces. But if we can’t reach an agreement in mediation, then we go for a trial and a judge will decide what’s going to happen with your children and marital estate.
For more information on Proceeding With A Divorce In Tennessee, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (423) 262-8964 today.