When people think of a divorce, they are concerned about its possible costs, endless complications and the time consuming issues it involves. Although a divorce can be an emotionally painful experience for the spouses and can even create psychological distress, from a legal standpoint, the entire separation and divorce process is very straightforward.
Getting a divorce in Nashville is quick, simple and quiet if you understand the divorce laws and respect them accordingly. Here is short introduction on the laws of divorce in Tennessee:
1. The grounds for divorce in Nashville, Tennessee
In the state of Tennessee, a divorce can be granted if one of the spouse, or both, can show the court that the marriage has serious problems that cannot be solved. In legal terms, these conflicting issues are termed as “grounds” and stand as the basis for granting a divorce. They can vary from adultery, drug use, alcohol use, abandonment, criminal conviction, cruelty, or many other situations. The Nashville divorce law also offers the “irreconcilable differences” ground for divorce, which allows couples to freely agree on the division of property, visitation of children and alimony.
2. The divorce complaint
Filing a divorce complaint is the first step when asking for a divorce. Usually, one spouse files the complaint with the clerk and, during a certain amount of time (typically a two week period), the other spouse will be informed about the divorce process. The complaint requires certain personal information listed, such as the names of the spouses, the date of marriage, the date of separation and other relevant information that could help the court, such as the reason that led to the filing, as listed in the law. This document, even though quite simple and straightforward, is the basis for the whole divorce process and it is important to have a specialized lawyer draft it for you. A carefully and professionally composed complaint will support your case better, hasten the entire process and will better protect your rights.
3. The complaint serving
According to Tennessee divorce law, the next step is the formal serving of the complaint to the other spouse. The law states that this should be done by the Sheriff, by a private process server or by certified mail. This step should be handled with utmost care and you should choose the service handler according to your situation. Generally, many spouses avoid the use of the Sheriff’s office for this step as it can stir up controversies and delicate aspects when a deputy visits a spouse’s residence or workplace.
4. The waiting period before the divorce awarding
After all the above steps are completed, and both the spouses are aware of the divorce process, a period of waiting time is required. According to Tennessee and Nashville law, this period lasts for at least 60 days, in case there are no children (minors), or for at least 90 days if minors are part of the family. After this period, the judge will decide to award the divorce on certain grounds, or refuse the awarding, depending on each specific case. The waiting period was specifically designed to help married couples get over their differences in a longer period, thus possibly cancel their divorce filing.
If there is no desire for reconciliation between the spouses and the divorce process is going ahead, this period is ideal for the negotiation process for various settlements between the parties. Settlements should be negotiated for the division of property (such as real estate, businesses and stocks), child visitation agreements and rights, as well as alimony and various external payments. If these settlements are agreed upon without a further trial, the process is quick and simple for both of the spouses. On the other hand, if the parties do not come to an agreement, the lawyers of each party is allowed to use various discovery techniques to better asses and determine the whole income, debts, assets of each spouse. This step is critical for the whole divorce process because it can lead to favorable result for both parties if done professionally.
5. The mediation process
According to Tennessee and Nashville divorce laws, the judge is able to order a mediation process for the parties involved in the divorce. This process is perfect to reach a mutual agreement between the parties to avoid a trial. The mediator is fully certified by a special commission and can be chosen either by the spouses themselves, or the judge may choose an independent mediator. Even though mediation is not cheap, it is usually cheaper than a trial, and it is more effective and fast. According to divorce laws, mediators act as interlocutors for the spouses, giving advice and establishing what their specific needs are. In addition, the mediation process can also be extended and involve a parenting seminar, which deals with the delicate matter of children during the divorce process. After this series of interactive discussions, many couples eventually reach a common agreement, thus avoiding a costly trial.
6. The trial
The trial is the difficult step that is reached if the mediation process was unsuccessful. As stated in the Tennessee divorce laws, during the trial, the attorney represents you and brings evidence to the judge. The trial involves a cross examination process together with your spouse and a careful study of evidence from both parties. Depending on the case, the attorney may use various techniques and may employ additional team members, such as paralegals and private detectives. At the end of the trial, the judge will decide the division of the couple’s property, insurance coverage, alimony and will establish a child care and visitation schedule. Also, after this step, the marriage is effectively dissolved and the couple’s property is completely separated.
7. The enforcement of the decision
According to Tennessee divorce laws, the judge’s decision is considered an order of the court and it is binding for both parties, regardless of their specific desires. If one spouse refuses to abide by the order, it is considered a contempt of court, which can result in a period of jail confinement, a fine or other penalties, depending on the severity of the case. Generally, delicate matters such as child support and alimony disobedience is ruthlessly punished by the judge.