Understanding the key elements of a Tennessee divorce case

People preparing for divorces in Tennessee can benefit from becoming familiar with common aspects of a divorce settlement and the associated state laws.

Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful, regardless of whether the separation is contentious or amicable. Many people in Nashville feel significant anxiety about the potential legal outcomes of the separation and the impacts those outcomes may have on life afterward. Fortunately, divorcing spouses can counter many of these feelings by familiarizing themselves with the key components of a typical divorce case, along with the relevant state laws.

Property division

In Tennessee, all marital property is subject to division between both spouses. In contrast, property that was individually owned before the marriage, along with inheritances and gifts, stays with its original owner. Marital property can be divided through an agreement between spouses or a divorce decree.

Under Tennessee's equitable distribution laws, family law judges must divide property in a manner that is reasonable and fair. The Huffington Post states that judges may consider various factors to decide what type of arrangement is equitable. These include the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse and each person's education and vocational skills.

Spousal support

Spousal support or alimony is a form of support that a financially disadvantaged spouse receives from the other spouse after divorce. A ruling from a state appellate court states that spouses may receive the following four types of alimony in Tennessee:

  • Rehabilitative alimony. The goal of this type of alimony is to help a spouse improve his or her earning power and become self-sufficient.
  • Transitional alimony. This alimony aims to enable a spouse to make the transition to living independently.
  • Alimony in solido. This lump sum payment is made in installments to provide long-term support.
  • Alimony in futuro. This is another long-term payment that seeks to support a spouse who cannot provide for himself or herself.

When awarding alimony, family law judges may consider many of the same factors that affect property division. These include each spouse's health, earning power, financial needs and contributions to the marriage. Additionally, a judge may take into account the standard of living that a couple enjoyed while married.

Parenting plans

In Tennessee, divorcing parents with minor children must follow court-approved parenting plans that address various issues, from legal responsibility to physical visitation. Parents are encouraged to create a cooperative plan that grants both parents regular involvement in the child's life and responsibility for major decisions. However, parents have discretion to determine which arrangement best suits their children.

Parents have the option of creating a parenting plan independently or with a mediator. If parents can't come to terms, a family law judge may craft a plan based on the plans that both parents submit. The final plan can be modified later, but the parent requesting modifications must document a significant change in life circumstances.

Child support

In Tennessee, the parent with whom the child doesn't reside for the majority of the time may be required to make child support payments to the other parent. The amount of support that a parent must pay depends on fixed guidelines that take into account various factors. These include the income of each parent, the number of nights each parent has custody and the expenses associated with raising the child.

Securing a suitable outcome

It's important for spouses to remember that navigating all of these aspects of a divorce can be challenging, and missteps can have lasting consequences. As a result, most people can benefit from seeking the assistance of a family law attorney during the divorce process. An attorney can provide guidance in all of these areas and help a spouse pursue a reasonable, equitable settlement.