Do you charge a consultation fee for divorces?

No. Our office is glad to consult with you about a divorce, with no obligation or fee required. Fees are only charged in the event you hire us.

I have heard that divorce can be “uncontested” or “contested.”  What do these terms mean?  What are the advantages and disadvantages to each?

This simply means whether the parties to the divorce can agree on the terms of the divorce or whether a judge must decide the terms following a trial. An uncontested divorce is less expensive and time consuming than a contested divorce, but requires the parties to reach agreements as to things like property division, alimony, and child custody. A contested divorce requires a trial, and thus, can take longer from filing to finalization. A contested divorce generally also costs more, due to the additional time and effort required. A contested divorce allows a party to place decisions of property division, alimony, and child custody in the court’s hands, rather than agree to an unfavorable outcome.

I was served with divorce paperwork, including a Marital Dissolution Agreement and Parenting Plan.  While I don’t completely agree with all the terms and conditions, I do want a divorce.  Should I sign it without speaking with an attorney?

No. At a bare minimum, you should consider consulting an attorney to at least review the paperwork to determine whether the proposed terms of the divorce are fair and equitable. From there, a qualified attorney may be able to help negotiate a better deal for you or take the case to trial.

What are the grounds for divorce in Tennessee?

There are number of grounds for divorce in Tennessee; however, a spouse seeking a divorce must cite and prove at least one of the statutorily recognized grounds. The most common grounds are inappropriate marital conduct and adultery. Tennessee also permits parties to agree to a divorce without regard to fault through irreconcilable differences.

My spouse has told me if I file for divorce, they will get half of our property.  Is this true?

In any divorce, the court must make an “equitable” division of marital property in accordance with a number of factors. An “equitable” division does not always mean 50/50. A court may increase or decrease a spouse’s share of the marital estate depending upon statutory factors.

My spouse has told me they will get custody of the children, and I will never see them again.  Is this true?

In Tennessee, any parenting arrangement must be found by the judge to be in the “best interests” of the child or children. Generally, except in the rarest and most extreme cases of abuse, neglect or other misconduct, both spouses will receive reasonable visitation with the child or children.

In the event I file for divorce, is it possible to recover the cost of my attorney fees from my spouse?

There is no absolute right to recover attorney fees. The court may award you your attorney fees, but based upon similar considerations to those of an award of alimony.

I have heard the term “legal separation” used in conjunction with “divorce.”  Are these the same?

No. Divorce and legal separation are two distinct legal concepts. You should consult an attorney for the specific differences and their effects.

I am reliant upon my spouse’s income to support our children.  How is child support calculated, and what determines who pays support and who receives it?

Tennessee law provides that child support is based on an “income shares” model of child support, in which the respective incomes of the divorcing parties are compared, with the prospective child support amount adjusted in proportion to the parenting time of the parties. The determination of child support is based upon a mathematical formula, and is dependent upon a number of factors, including: the parties’ respective incomes, any child care or health insurance paid on behalf of the children, and the parties’ parenting time.