Brentwood Divorce Attorneys
The Brentwood family law attorneys at Beal, Nations & Crutcher are here for you for your contested or uncontested divorce in Williamson County and surrounding counties. Our team is here to guide you through the process and advise and represent you at every stage, protecting your rights and promoting your interests when it comes to vital matters such as child custody, child support, the division of marital property, and alimony. Learn more below about how divorce works in Tennessee, and call Beal, Nations & Crutcher for advice and representation in your Brentwood divorce.
Tennessee Divorce Laws and Procedures
For the court to have jurisdiction to hear a divorce in Tennessee, either spouse must have been domiciled in the state for six months or more before the divorce petition (complaint) is filed. Tennessee law also imposes a cooling-off period after the petition is filed to allow time for the parties to reconcile and to ensure a fair process. The soonest a divorce can be finalized in Tennessee is 60 days from the date the divorce is filed if the couple has no minor children, or 90 days if they do have kids at home. Divorces can be finalized sooner in exceptional cases involving domestic violence or some other emergency.
The first step to getting a divorce is filing a petition/complaint with the court stating the ground for divorce (listed below) and telling the court what you want from the divorce, such as custody or support. The complaint gets served on the other spouse who then files an answer to the complaint with the court. The answer will admit or deny the allegations in the complaint and may add new items the party wants the court to consider. If the responding party fails to file a timely answer, the court could grant a default judgment to the filing party, dissolving the marriage and giving them what they asked for in the complaint.
Once the papers have been filed, the judge issues temporary orders which preserve the status quo between the parties, such as ordering them not to dispose of marital property or make large purchases that could affect the property division. The court can also make a temporary award of alimony while the divorce is pending if requested and justified.
As the parties prepare for trial, they’ll enter a phase known as discovery where they obtain financial information and other evidence from the other party they need to build their case. The parties can also settle the case at any time by creating a marital dissolution agreement and parenting plan, if applicable. The judge can order the parties into mediation to help them settle their differences without a trial.
If necessary, the judge will hold a hearing where each side gets to present evidence and legal arguments why the court should rule a certain way regarding alimony, child custody, property division and any other outstanding issues. After the trial, the judge will finalize the divorce, issuing a decree dissolving the marriage and issuing enforceable court orders for custody and support, etc.
Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee
Tennessee recognizes “no-fault” divorce like all other states, but unlike many other states, Tennessee has not abolished its fault-based grounds. A party filing for divorce must state the applicable ground and provide evidence that justifies this ground exists. The grounds for divorce in Tennessee are:
- Either party was naturally impotent or infertile at the time of the marriage and still is
- Either party knowingly got married while still married to another, and that previous marriage still subsists
- Either party committed adultery
- Either party willfully or maliciously deserted or abandoned the other without reasonable cause for one year
- Either party has been convicted of an infamous crime or is sentenced to prison after being convicted of a felony
- Either party attempted to kill the other through poison or any other malicious means
- One spouse was willfully absent from the state for two years and refused to join the other in Tennessee without reasonable cause
- At the time of the marriage, the woman was pregnant by another man without her husband’s knowledge
- Either party became addicted to drugs or habitually drunk after the marriage
- Either spouse has behaved in such a cruel or inhuman way toward the other that it would be improper and unsafe to continue to reside together
- Either spouse has “offered such indignities to the spouse’s person as to render the spouse’s position intolerable, and thereby forced the spouse to withdraw”
- Either spouse has abandoned the other or kicked them out without just cause and has refused or neglected to provide for them while having the ability to do so
- Irreconcilable differences
- Each party has lived in separate residences for two or more years, and the two have not “cohabited as man and wife” during that time, and they have no minor children together
Most divorces these days include the ground of irreconcilable differences. Even if one party objects to the divorce, it is still usually possible to obtain a divorce on this ground. The parties can agree on the ground for divorce but still have other issues to work out. If they can work out these issues, they can create a marital dissolution agreement covering the division of marital property and alimony, along with a parenting plan outlining their agreement on child custody and the required child support paperwork. These agreements can be submitted to the court and if approved, the judge will incorporate them into the divorce decree. Otherwise, the parties will need to litigate these issues in court and will be bound by the decision of the court.
Help With Divorce in Brentwood and Williamson County
The family law attorneys at Beal, Nations & Crutcher can help you file a divorce petition or respond to divorce papers filed by your spouse. We are here for you to work out a marital dissolution agreement and parenting plan outside of court or in mediation, and we can provide strong and effective advocacy for your needs and interests in a courtroom trial if necessary. For skilled and knowledgeable help with divorce in Brentwood from a team of dedicated and experienced family law attorneys, call Beal, Nations & Crutcher at 615-861-2304.