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Most couples enter a marriage thinking the partnership will last forever. Yet nearly half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. Filing for divorce is an emotional, confusing, often painful exercise. Issues of distribution of property and custody of children all factor into what can be a very difficult process. The experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyers at Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law skillfully handle every detail of the divorce process, providing professional counsel and compassionate guidance while advocating for your best interests.
Divorce in Tennessee
Residency requirements must be met to file for a divorce in Tennessee. Specifically, the spouse filing for the divorce must be a resident of Tennessee at the time the grounds for divorce occurred. If the grounds for divorce took place outside the state, then one of the spouses must be a Tennessee resident for a period of six months prior to filing. Individual states have their own laws regarding the necessary grounds for divorce. The state of Tennessee allows divorce on either “fault” or “no-fault” grounds.
What is a “no-fault” divorce?
In filing for a no-fault divorce, the couple must agree that there are “irreconcilable differences” within the marriage. Citing irreconcilable differences may serve as a sole ground for divorce or as an alternate ground for divorce with any other cause for divorce. Filings for no-fault divorces must be uncontested; neither party can disagree about anything with the divorce.
What is a “fault” divorce?
In Tennessee, the grounds for filing a fault divorce include but are not limited to:
- Adultery committed by either spouse
- If either spouse has knowingly entered into a second marriage prior to dissolution of the previous marriage
- If either spouse was and is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation
- Being convicted of an infamous crime
- If either spouse exhibits alcoholism or drug addiction
- If the wife is pregnant by another at the time of marriage without the husband’s knowledge
- Endangering the life of the spouse
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
What is a Contested Divorce?
Some divorces that go forward in the State of Tennessee are amicable. This means that the parties are able to agree on all of the issues involved. On the other hand, when the spouses are unable to compromise and agree on at least one disputed issue, the divorce proceeding is considered to be contested.
When issues are not resolved with negotiation between the spouses, they might be able to participate in mediation and see if they can work out their disputes amicably with the assistance of a mediator. A mediator can be helpful in facilitating discussions with the spouses on various disputed issues and working to bring about an efficient resolution. However, in some instances, that is not possible, and the spouses must file a contested divorce so that disputed issues can be resolved in the courtroom.
There are numerous issues that spouses could dispute in a contested divorce proceeding, including:
- Property division - Tennessee law requires that spouses divide property in an equitable manner, which means they must distribute all marital property fairly depending on their circumstances. Property disputes are particularly common in divorces involving businesses, significant wealth, and other complex property or assets.
- Child custody - When a divorcing couple has shared children, their divorce must include custody orders, which set out when the child will live with each parent and how the parents will share decision-making responsibilities. Custody can be a challenging issue when one parent is abusive or otherwise might put the child in harm’s way.
- Child support - Both parents have the duty to financially support their child, and this does not change once they are divorced. Often, one parent will need to pay child support to the other due to a discrepancy in income or one parent having primary custody rights. Child support should always be fair to the paying parent, as well.
- Spousal support/alimony - While not an issue in every divorce case, it is often a highly contested matter when one spouse requests support, which might also be called alimony or maintenance. Many factors are considered in spousal support decisions, including the earning capacity of each spouse, length of the marriage, contributions to the other spouse’s career, prenuptial agreements, and more.
If you are in the midst of a contested divorce proceeding, the experienced and compassionate Murfreesboro divorce lawyers at Dotson & Taylor can look at all of your legal options with you. Our team will first look to see if any disputed issues with your spouse can first be resolved. However, if a resolution is not in the cards, we can assist you with litigating your case – and, if necessary, taking it to trial.
When issues are in the hands of the court, you need a skilled litigator standing up for your rights and interests. When you have a contested divorce, you want to have our legal team on your side.
Will I Have to Go to Court to Settle a Divorce?
In most cases, it is far better for the parties in a divorce case to see if they can resolve all of their disputed issues on their own. This is because when a court is left to decide the disputed issues, more likely than not, one or both of the spouses will walk away disappointed and unhappy. However, in some instances, the parties are in such disagreement that formal dispute resolution or litigation becomes necessary.
Prior to litigating disputed divorce issues in court, alternative dispute resolution might be an option for the parties. In particular, the parties may want to consider taking the case to mediation before a qualified mediator. Mediators in divorce cases are typically retired family court judges or practicing attorneys who handle mediation on the side. These individuals are experts at dispute resolution and will work with both sides to try and facilitate settlement discussions on disputed issues.
Even if the parties are unable to resolve all of their disputed issues, a mediator could at least help to resolve some of the most important ones – including issues like child custody and visitation that involve the minor children.
In cases where the parties are not able to resolve all of their issues, the disputed issues will typically be litigated in court. The litigation process begins when the plaintiff spouse files a lawsuit against the defendant spouse. If the case has to go to trial, each side will be able to testify on the witness stand and can call witnesses in support of his or her version of the case.
Once all of the evidence has been presented in the case, a judge or jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues. The outcome will then typically be memorialized in writing in the form of a court order. If one or both of the spouses violates a provision in the court order, that party could petition the court for a finding of contempt.
Regardless of whether your divorce case has to be mediated or tried in court, the Murfreesboro divorce lawyers at Dotson & Taylor are here to help. We will start by working to reach an amicable resolution of your disputed issues, but if that is not possible, we welcome the opportunity to litigate those issues in the courtroom.
What Other Legal Issues are Common in Divorce Proceedings?
There are many other legal issues besides the divorce itself that can arise in divorce proceedings. These issues may involve the spouses, as well as the spouses’ minor children. Some of the most common issues that arise in divorce proceedings include the following:
- Alimony, whether temporary or long-term
- Child custody (both legal and physical custody)
- Visitation (including potential visitation with a stepparent)
- Child support
- Valuation of marital property that the parties have acquired during the course of their marriage
- Distribution of the spouses’ marital property
The experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorneys at Dotson & Taylor understand the stress and frustration that often accompanies divorce proceedings in Tennessee. Our legal team will do everything possible to help you resolve your disputed issues with the other side and make the case as stress-free as possible.
Contact Our Experienced Murfreesboro, Tennessee Divorce Lawyers Today
The process of filing for divorce is difficult, even in the best of circumstances. It can be confusing, stressful, and emotionally exhausting. If you are petitioning the court for a dissolution of marriage, it is important that you understand the grounds for divorce, the possible outcomes, and have someone by your side to protect your interests through this process.
The knowledgeable divorce lawyers at Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law have the skill and savvy you need to successfully navigate the divorce process, protecting your rights and advocating on your behalf. Put your trust in our team. Contact our Murfreesboro office today at 615-890-1982 or online to discuss your case or schedule a free consultation.