Brentwood Legal Separation Attorney
Most people don’t get married with the plan to get divorced. This, however, is what ends up happening for more than 50 percent of couples. When faced with the decision to end a marriage, couples in Tennessee have another option besides divorce, known as legal separation. As a less severe and non-permanent alternative, legal separation often proves to be the best move for some families. To learn more about legal separation, including whether it could be right for you, please reach out to our dedicated team of Brentwood legal separation lawyers today.
What is Legal Separation?
Unlike many states, Tennessee offers couples the opportunity to obtain a legal separation rather than a divorce. It is similar to divorce, in that couples must grapple with the same legal issues, including property division, child custody, and alimony. However, at the end of those proceedings, the parties will still be married. Legal separation could be a good option for:
- Couples who are not confident that they want to legally end the marriage;
- Couples with children who are trying to preserve a stable family life;
- Those whose strong religious beliefs don’t allow for divorce; or
- Couples looking to preserve valuable tax or federal benefits, including a military pension.
To obtain a legal separation, a couple must file a petition with the court, in which they assert that the parties’ relationship has been damaged beyond repair due to irreconcilable differences. Tennessee also has a mandatory waiting period, during which time a judge can’t start working on a couple’s case. For those with children, this period is 90 days, but for those without children, it is only 60 days.
Negotiating a Settlement
Couples can start negotiating the terms of their separation during this cooling off period, which includes determining:
- How marital assets and debts will be divided;
- Whether one spouse will be entitled to spousal support; and
- How the parties will share custody of any children.
If the parties can’t agree on one or more of these issues, then a court will step in and resolve the disputes after the waiting period has expired. The resulting separation agreement is a legally binding contract that includes details about these issues, with which the parties must comply. Separation agreements don’t prevent people from getting divorced later on, but they can be adopted in the future if a couple does choose to legally end the marriage.
Finalizing the Separation
Once a court has finalized a separation agreement, both spouses will be free to enter into new relationships and contracts, and live as though they are single. Couples who reconcile can ask the court to terminate the earlier separation agreement. Once two years have passed, on the other hand, the parties can instead ask the court to convert the separation into divorce.
Call Today to Set Up a Meeting
For help determining whether a legal separation could be right for you and your family, please call 615-861-2304 and schedule a meeting with the dedicated Brentwood legal separation lawyers at Beal, Nations & Crutcher today.