Compassionate and Experienced Representation for Your and Your Family
For compassionate and experienced representation in your Franklin family law case, consult Durak Law Firm. We seek to provide clients and their families with effective legal guidance to navigate an often complex family legal system. From divorce to property distribution to child custody, Durak Law Firm is equipped with the professional knowledge and experience to help you.
Getting a Divorce in Tennessee
To get a divorce in Tennessee, a spouse must have resided in Tennessee for at least 6 months before filing. After meeting the residence requirement, the petitioning spouse can file for either fault-based or no-fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce is a mutually agreed divorce where the couple cites irreconcilable differences for their divorce. Fault-based divorce, on the other hand, is when the other spouse's behavior during the marriage caused the breakup, such as through adultery, alcoholism, desertion, etc. To learn more about the specific grounds for fault divorce, visit our Divorce Law page.
Generally, a mutual (uncontested) no-fault divorce takes 2-6 months to complete, and a contested divorce can take a year or more, primarily due to high-conflict negotiations regarding marital issues like property division or child custody. Note that a couple may negotiate the terms of their divorce among themselves without the interference of the court, such as discussing only between themselves or in mediation. However, if the spouses cannot settle all of their disputes in their discussion, they will have to defer to a final decision by the judge.
Property Distribution Laws
One important matter of divorce negotiation is the division of marital property between the separating spouses. Tennessee courts follow the rules of equitable distribution to divide marital property. The primary factors a judge will consider when determining equitable distribution of property will be:
- the duration of the marriage;
- the age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities, and financial needs of each spouse;
- the tangible or intangible contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other;
- the relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- the contribution each spouse has made to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including contributions as a homemaker, wage earner, or parent;
- the value of each spouse's separate property;
- the estate of each spouse at the time of the marriage;
- the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective;
- the tax consequences for each spouse;
- the amount of Social Security benefits available to each spouse; and
- other relevant factors necessary to consider the equities between the spouses.
When preparing for property division negotiations, it is important to note what property is marital and what property is non-marital, or separate. Marital property is generally property acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage. This could be tangible property (e.g., a car or home) or intangible property (e.g., intellectual property, goodwill in a business), as well as vested pension and retirement benefits, which are subject to division to the extent that they were acquired during the marriage.
Non-marital or separate property, on the other hand, is property belonging only to one spouse. This could be property acquired as a gift or inheritance solely to the one spouse and any property acquired by the spouse before the marriage and kept separate from the marriage.
Note that spouses often commingle their marital and non-marital property, both knowingly and unknowingly. Separate property commingled with marital property, however, automatically becomes marital property up for division. For example, if a person puts their inheritance in a joint bank account, the inheritance could become marital property because it has been commingled into a marital bank account. Visit our page on Property Division to learn more about specific property constituted as marital, separate, or even commingled.
Determining Child Custody
Another important concern in divorce negotiations is child custody. Child custody can be either joint or sole for legal and physical custody. When determining the custody arrangement for divorcing parents, the court will consider the child’s best interests, primarily:
- the child's relationship with each parent;
- each parent’s caretaking role and obligations;
- the child's relationships with siblings and extended family members;
- the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
- the importance of continuity in the child’s life, such as how long they have lived in their current environment;
- either parent’s history of domestic violence or emotional abuse;
- each parent’s moral, physical, mental, and emotional fitness;
- the child’s reasonable preference if 12 years old or older;
- each parent’s work schedule; and
- any other relevant factor.
Note that a parent who does not have primary custody is, in most cases, still entitled to regular communication with their child. This could be in the form of one weeknight visit and visits every other weekend or telephone calls with the child twice a week. To learn more about child custody negotiations and visitation arrangements in Tennessee, visit our page on Child Custody.
If you are dealing with family legal issues in Franklin, do not hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced family lawyer. Whether you intend to file for divorce, have questions about equitable distribution of marital property, or anticipate a custody battle for your child, Attorney Michal Durakiewicz can handle your case with effective and compassionate hands. Let an experienced professional protect your and your child’s future.
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