Steps to Getting a Divorce in Tennessee | Things You Must Know
Getting a divorce is not something anyone expects to go through. It is difficult for everyone involved. No one is thinking about divorce on that happy day when they say, ‘I do.’ Unfortunately, divorce is something that 39% of marriages will go through. In Tennessee, the divorce rate is in the top 10 states in the country, and as unfortunate it is, going through the divorce process is still something that happens. There are two different ways to end a marriage in Tennessee: divorce trial or settlement. Keep reading to learn the things you should know before you take that first step.
What causes a divorce
There are several reasons behind getting a divorce, and they vary from state to state. In Tennessee, they range from adultery, the conviction of a felony, irreconcilable differences, and many more.
To even contemplate starting the divorce process, you generally need to live in Tennessee for 6 months before filing in the local court. Then there are several steps to go through before you get a final resolved outcome.
Cost of a divorce
There are two main types of divorce in Tennessee, contested and uncontested. Uncontested is usually the least expensive way of getting a divorce as it involves the shortest time and is the least complicated. A study found that a basic uncontested divorce would cost $4,100 on average, whereas a heavily contested divorce that results in a trial would cost around $18,000 on average.
In Tennessee, there are different costs of filing for divorce. Currently, the price is $184.50 if you are filing for a divorce without any minor children. However, this increases to $259.50 if there are minor children involved. You will also need to consider the sheriff’s fee, which is payable to the sheriff’s department, to serve the divorce papers to the other party.
Everyone knows that there are unexpected costs in life, and unfortunately, there is a number of them within the divorce process. Often they will be in the form of a divorce mediator, which is used to keep a divorce from going to trial and costing even more money. If you believe that you and the other party can arrange without going to trial, it is advised to hire a divorce mediator to act between the two parties. One additional cost which often pops up is a forensic accountant. It is used for hunting down assets the other party is hiding.
Finally, you must consider any credit you and your former partner may have together, including mortgage, credit cards, and car financing. The cost of refinancing them into one person’s name often comes up and launches the cost of divorce much higher. If you don’t do this, you leave yourself open to much worse costs in the future as your former partner could damage your credit score, and lenders can pursue other avenues after you over a joint debit.
What makes a divorce contested vs. uncontested?
An uncontested divorce is when the two parties agree on everything, including property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. In these cases, it is possible to provide a signed arrangement to the court, and on most occasions, the court will accept the terms set out in the arrangement.
A contested divorce is where the two parties disagree over topics. This type is most common when minors are involved. In this case, the agreement needs to include living arrangements for the minor child, the amount of time spent with each parent, and any payments to support the child. These issues can provide a stumbling point for a divorce, which draws the divorce process out further and usually makes it more expensive.
Do I need an attorney for a divorce?
One very important question often asked is, ‘Do I need an attorney for a divorce?’. Well, the short answer is no. Getting an attorney is not the only way to go through the divorce process. If you and your former spouse agree to the divorce process, you can proceed without an attorney. However, even if you do agree, it is highly recommended that you do hire one, as small issues can quickly turn more serious and result in a larger bill in the end.
What is the divorce process?
The divorce process is a complex and confusing thing. Step number one is to file a complaint. The person to do this first is called the plaintiff. There are benefits of filing for divorce first. If things start going downhill, you are more likely to get to a resolution faster by filing first, as you aren’t waiting for the other party to take action.
Being the person who initiates the divorce process puts you in a strategic position for the proceedings. Having to react to the divorce process instantly puts you on the back foot and results in you answering the action instead of making the action yourself. Finally, it also means if the divorce goes to trial, you’ll be the first one to speak and present your evidence. We all know how important it is to make a strong first impression, so why wouldn’t you want to be in such a strong position?
After the divorce process is initiated, a temporary injunction is processed to halt any sale or transfer of assets that could negatively affect either party and ensure there is no negativity between parties, which could further break relationships. The next stage is discovery, where both parties investigate the other party to discover the facts surrounding the case. Discovery could involve several different forms, such as:
- Requests for the production of documents
- Requests for admissions
Discovery can be the longest and most expensive part of the divorce process.
Children in divorce
As said before, children in a divorce can make the process even more complex and expensive. Ultimately, after the divorce, the parent-child dynamic will shift, on occasion for the better, and you both move forward in a happier place. However, the divorce process can leave some issues in the relationship. In Tennessee, there is a requirement for both parents to attend a four-hour class to help everyone get through the divorce. The course aims to coach the parents in helping the children understand that the parents are the ones divorcing, not the children.
There are several methods courts use to decide on issues involving children. One of the most used is the appointment of a guardian ad litem, who interviews people close to the parents and children and then produces a report submitted for the judge. From this position, either the judge will decide, or both parties can form a suitable arrangement.
Final steps in the divorce process
Once the discovery stage and issues surrounding children are resolved, the divorce moves into the final stages. The next step is negotiating a settlement, which involves both parties coming to a compromise to move forward after the divorce. This is often considered a favorable outcome as it provides certain guarantees that moving forward with a trial may not. It provides a give-and-take type of scenario where one party may barter over something they believe to be important, resulting in a comfortable position for both parties.
If there is no agreement, the case will head to a trial in front of a judge. Trials are almost always expensive and unpleasant affairs, and so it is common practice to try and stay away from them. They can also result in a party getting nothing that benefits them or ending up worse off than if they had accepted a settlement agreement. The judge decides on main points, including:
- Primary residential parent status and the allocation of residential time with the children;
- Division of marital assets and debts;
- Temporary or permanent support in the form of alimony;
- Amount of child support;
- The potential of attorney’s fees being awarded to a party;
- Who is liable for court costs.
The trial is usually the final part for both parties, but it can take time to carry out the trial’s actions. This is often a surprise for divorcing parties and stands out as something you must know before going through with the divorce process. If one party is unhappy with the outcome, they can appeal the outcome with the supreme court of Tennessee.
Can I change my name after a divorce?
During the final part of the divorce process, you need to consider what to do with your last name. You can change your name while getting a divorce unless perpetrating fraud. Many people choose to do so as it allows them to move past getting a divorce and the entire divorce process.
Online filing for divorce
Some services offer to assist with parts of the divorce process online. If you are going to have an uncontested divorce, they allow you to have a DIY experience when filing for divorce by handling the paperwork without an attorney, saving you lots of money. The idea is a smooth, easy and cheap process. However, they can require more work to make sure they are correctly done. When you hire an attorney, they are responsible for doing a lot of leg work, which ultimately is missing in some online divorce services. Some services including tennesseeonlinedivorce.com offer a great range of benefits for using their online divorce service, and so it is important to make sure to do research into these options of the divorce process and check reviews to make sure you are getting the best.