An Aggressive Advocate
Who Fights for Your Family
Schedule a Free Consultation
Two broken golden wedding rings and divorce decree

What You Need to Know About Divorce in Tennessee

Middle Tennessee Family Law  Aug. 7, 2023

People who are going through a divorce are understandably apprehensive. One of the best things an experienced lawyer can do for you is to answer your questions and address your concerns. Many people have unrealistic fears about what will happen. I work in Middle Tennessee Divorce Courts every day. My practice includes divorce law in Nashville, Franklin, Columbia, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, and Smyrna.

At Middle Tennessee Family Law in Nashville, Tennessee, I offer a free initial consultation to discuss your divorce. I will listen carefully to find out what you want to get out of your divorce and strive to help you reach your goals and a favorable resolution.

Most divorces end up in mediation when the two parties cannot reach an agreement. However, I prepare for trial in case mediation is not successful.

How Will My Property Be Divided?

In Tennessee, the property you had before your marriage is considered separate property and is yours to keep. All assets acquired during your marriage, with the exception of gifts and inheritances, are considered marital property and are divided according to the law of equitable division. Equitable does not necessarily mean “equal.” It means fair. A court could decide that an unequal split is fair based on issues such as earning potential and the amount of separate property each person has.

The line between marital property and separate property is not always black and white. For example, if you contributed to a separate property business, a portion of the business could be considered marital property. I am experienced in handling divorces that involve significant assets, including intellectual property such as a songwriter’s catalog.

Will I Pay/Receive Alimony?

Tennessee courts may award alimony (also called spousal maintenance or support) in cases where one party has a financial need and the other has the ability to pay. There are four types of alimony:

  • Alimony in Futuro - This is periodic payments to enable a spouse to maintain the lifestyle he or she enjoyed during the marriage.

  • Rehabilitative Alimony - This is support to help a spouse obtain education or training to increase his or her earning capacity.

  • Transitional alimony - This is to give the lower-earning spouse time to adjust to being self-supporting.

  • Alimony in Solido - This is a lump sum payment that can be negotiated between the parties.

Hiring an Experienced Nashville Family Law Attorney is an Important First Step to a Successful Divorce

Few people, if any, go into a marriage expecting it to end in divorce. Your marriage is supposed to last forever, but the sad truth is that a high percentage of them do not. At Middle Tennessee Family Law, I understand divorce is an emotional rollercoaster and a legal action you should not go into unprepared.

The selection of an experienced Nashville divorce lawyer to represent you is probably the single most important decision you can make to ensure that your best interests and future well-being are protected. Nashville divorce attorney Tiffany Johns possesses superior negotiation and litigation skills, combined with a practical, business-like approach that focuses exclusively on the needs and best interests of each divorce client.

Saving Money on an Attorney May Cost You Dearly in the Long Run

Although the decision to end the marriage has been made, you and your spouse may be getting along now, so using the same lawyer might seem like a good way to save money. A lawyer representing two people with potentially conflicting interests is doing a disservice to both of you. Your lawyer should be dedicated to representing just one person – you.

The termination of a marriage involves important financial and other concerns, such as child custody, that will require your attorney to be committed to obtaining an outcome that is best for you. Some of the issues commonly disputed in a divorce include:

  • Alimony: There are four types of alimony to which a spouse may be entitled. Whether or not it is appropriate to grant alimony, and the type that is best suited for the circumstances requires the services of an attorney committed to just one of the parties.

  • Property Division: Tennessee courts apply the law of equitable division that first requires them to decide which property is marital and which is separate. Once that decision has been made, there are several factors that courts take into consideration in deciding how marital property should be fairly divided. How your attorney presents the facts and evidence supporting your position could have an impact on getting a favorable ruling from the court.

Child Custody: You want what is best for your children, but you also want to know that your relationship with them is being taken into consideration and protected when a parenting plan is created.

How Do I Begin the Divorce Process?

In Tennessee, there are requirements that you and your spouse must meet before a divorce can be granted. These include:

  • Either you or your spouse must have lived in Tennessee for at least six months before filing.

  • Your divorce petition and initial paperwork must be filed in the county that you live in.

  • You must properly serve the other party with the petition.

It’s always best to discuss your case first with an experienced Brentwood divorce attorney before you file. There is a specific legal process you must follow with the initial filing and serving. Improper completion or service of your paperwork can greatly impact your case.

How Long Does the Process Take?

If you do not have minor children, you can be granted a divorce after sixty days if your case is uncontested. Uncontested means you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on how to divide your assets and debts. This is a fast and efficient way to obtain a divorce if there is little disagreement. You simply sign a Marital Dissolution Agreement written by your divorce attorney that outlines how you and your spouse have decided to separate your property, and if support is to be paid. This serves as a guideline on how this division is to be followed and can be used for financial institutions to properly transfer and divide assets.

If you have children with your spouse, you must wait at least ninety days before your divorce is granted. This “cooling off” period is required to ensure that you do not change your mind prior to your divorce becoming complete. You and your spouse will each sign a Marital Dissolution Agreement and discuss the details of your Permanent Parenting Plan that dictates child support, custody, and visitation. Official parenting plans follow rigid guidelines and must be strictly followed. Before signing, each of your attorneys will thoroughly review it and discuss the long-term consequences of certain terms contained within the agreements.

If you and your spouse do not agree on one or more aspects of your divorce, then you must file for a contested divorce. This entails each side arguing their case in front of a judge. The judge then decides child custody, visitation, support as well as a division of assets and debts. Contested cases can vary in length significantly and can be much more costly than an uncontested cases. They also require hiring an attorney who isn’t afraid to fight for your rights. Tiffany Johns provides aggressive representation, using forward legal strategies to ensure her clients get what they are entitled to during a contested divorce.

In a Contested Divorce, How Do The Courts Determine Who Gets What?

Although the circumstances of each divorce are different, all divorce actions are subject to Tennessee property division law which requires an equitable division of all marital property when divorcing spouses are unable to reach a settlement agreement on their own. Determining an equitable division becomes progressively more complex when the marital assets are complex as well. Disputes often involve:

  • Whether an asset is marital property or owned individually by one spouse

  • The actual value of an asset, such as a house or car

  • Preservations of assets — how to divide a jointly-owned interest in a business, for example, without forcing the business to disband

  • Liquidity of assets — when the family home represents more than 50 percent of a couple’s total property, how can both spouses take an equal share of the marital property without selling the house?

Contact an Experienced Franklin Divorce Attorney Today

At the Middle Tennessee Family Law, I am dedicated to helping Franklin area families reach equitable solutions during difficult times. To find out more, I encourage you to call the office or contact me online for a free initial consultation.

Divorce Attorney in Franklin, Tennessee

If you are going through a difficult divorce, don’t go through it alone. The Middle Tennessee Family Law in Franklin, Tennessee has been helping individuals for over a decade navigate the complexities of divorce law. From contested and uncontested divorce to alimony and child custody, I can advocate for your needs and protect your rights. Reach out today for a free consultation.