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Divorce Law in Tennessee

How to Find a Tennessee Divorce Attorney

Tennessee ‘s statistics are tough (and likely related.) Tennessee has one of the highest divorce rates and is one of the poorest states in the country. Money doesn’t buy love or happiness, but it sure makes a lot of things easier and more comfortable.

If you are considering divorce and looking for a Tennessee divorce attorney, you’re likely concerned about how much a divorce will cost you. You may even be thinking of trying to file the divorce papers and proceed through negotiations on your own.

If so, this article is for you. We’ll review:

  • Tennessee specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce; and
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire a Tennessee divorce lawyer and, if so, how to find one and how to prepare to work with him or her.

Tennessee Divorce Law Specifics

  • If the grounds for divorce occurred on Tennessee soil, the filing spouse must have been a Tennessee resident and can file at any time.
  • If the grounds for divorce did not occur in Tennessee, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Tennessee for at least 6 months prior to the divorce filing.
  • Divorce may be filed based upon either “no-fault” or “fault” grounds.
    • No-fault means that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”.
    • In Tennessee, fault means that your spouse is impotent, committed adultery, was convicted of and imprisoned for a felony, is an alcoholic or has a drug addiction, the wife was pregnant to another man at the time of the marriage (without the husband’s knowledge), desertion, bigamy, endangering spouse’s life, conviction of infamous crime, refusal to move to Tennessee, abuse and cruelty, putting spouse outside, and making spouse’s life intolerable.
  • Tennessee uses the terms, “petitioner” and “respondent” to describe, first, the spouse who initially filed the divorce papers, and, second, the other spouse.
  • In Tennessee, divorce papers are filed in the county courts.
  • In some cases, alimony is available.
  • In Tennessee property distribution will be based upon what’s “equitable” (i.e. fair) and child support will be based upon the Percentage of Income formula.

What You Need to Know About Divorce in Tennessee

We suggest that you cooperate during your divorce proceedings, saying, “yes”, at almost every opportunity and saying, “no”, only when you really have to. Though it may seem counter intuitive, cooperation will actually save you a lot of money in legal fees and get you more of what you want.

So, in a nutshell,

  • Say, “yes, whenever possible.
  • Hire a divorce lawyer who will cooperate and is willing to work together with your spouse’s attorney to get you more of what you want and keep fees down.
  • Know that you absolutely will have to compromise. In divorce, no spouse gets all of what he or she wants. (Your spouse will have to compromise too.)
  • Hire a therapist to help you deal with the pain and changes that divorce brings. Working with a professional is very likely to make you and your children happier, keep your legal fees down, and get you more of what you want because you’ll be making decisions from a stronger emotional base.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a Tennessee Divorce Lawyer?

You may think that by avoiding legal fees, you’ll be saving money. This is likely not true. In fact, trying to be a do-it-yourselfer will likely cost you much more.

What will one (or two) mistakes cost you? Will it cost you tens of thousands of dollars? Will it cost you your house? What about time with your children? What about your retirement funds?

Even Tennessee attorneys who go through divorce hire their own divorce lawyers. They know that they don’t know everything about divorce law and that they are not objective about their family situation.

How to Find and Select a Tennessee Divorce Attorney

Google has made it easy to find a lawyer. Just enter “How to Find a Tennessee Divorce Attorney” into your search engine. You can also ask for referrals from loved ones.

Once you’ve found several Tennessee attorneys, who focus their practice on family law and divorce law, then narrow down your list.

  • Always ask whatever questions you have about fees, the process, what to expect, communications, and timing.
  • Ask how the attorneys approach the process. Are they willing to work cooperatively to get you more of what you want and save you money? Or, are they offering to do “bad” things to your spouse? The latter will cost you gobs in emotions and money.
  • Select the attorney with whom you are most comfortable.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

When you’re getting ready to work with your divorce lawyer, these tips will get you started on the right track, saving you money, time, effort, and stress.

  • It’s okay to wait to file divorce until you determine that all reconciliation efforts have been exhausted.
  • Consult with a therapist or psychologist, who specializes in helping people going through divorce.
  • Make a list of questions and concerns to address with your divorce attorney; and, collect any information that your attorney has requested or suggested may be helpful such as financials.
  • Make a “wish list” (e.g. finances, living arrangements, and child related matters) and indicate those items that are your top priorities in the divorce and those items that aren’t as important.

In 2010, nearly 27,000 divorces were finalized in the state of Tennessee. That’s 54,000 people, trying to find their way through divorce and venture into a new and better life, just like you. What this means for you is that you are not alone. There are other people who understand how you feel and have faced the same challenges; and, there are professionals such as divorce attorneys and therapists who can get you through it all.

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