Q: How do I get a divorce and how long does the process take?
Either you or your spouse must file a Complaint for Divorce with the court to initiate divorce proceedings. Under Tennessee Code Annotated, Sections 36-4-101 and 36-4-103, this complaint must state the grounds for divorce. Even if you and your spouse both agree on the terms of the divorce, a judge must enter a decree to make the divorce final. It is difficult to predict how long any particular divorce will take; it depends on how quickly and easily you and your spouse can come to an agreement, the court’s schedule, and the complexity of your particular case.
Q: Will I have to pay my ex-spouse support (alimony) after our divorce?
In Tennessee, the court can order alimony payments under T.C.A. §36-5-121 according to the “nature of the case and the circumstances of the parties.” The court can order a specific amount to be paid in installments, such as monthly, semimonthly, weekly, or in a one time lump sum. Traditional alimony ends upon the death or remarriage of the recipient. We strongly advise you to seek the counsel of experienced divorce attorneys regarding your financial obligations.
Q: How will our property be divided in a divorce?
Tennessee follows traditional common laws for property division. Under T.C.A. § 36-4-121, judges will divide “marital property” – that is, property acquired by either or both spouses during marriage – in a manner it deems equitable. Of course, the division of property is often subject to dispute. An experienced divorce attorney will examine your situation and protect your interest in your property.
Q: What are prenuptial or antenuptial agreements?
Parties draft prenuptial (antenuptial) agreements before getting married. These agreements are enforceable contracts for the distribution of property, assets, debt, and sometimes alimony in the event of a divorce. We strongly recommend that you consult an experienced divorce lawyer to assist in the drafting of either prenuptial or antenuptial agreements.
Q: How is paternity established?
Paternity is established through a DNA test. Either one party gets a DNA test or both parties agree to the test, or in some cases, T.C.A. §36-2-305 allows a judge to order a test. T.C.A. §36-2-304 governs situations where a man is presumed to be a child’s father, then the baby is born during a marriage or is born with 300 days of a divorce. The man is then presumed to be the child’s father. If a man wants to establish paternity or establish that he is NOT a child’s father, he can file a petition to establish parentage. Both the child and the child’s mother can also file a petition to establish parentage. The laws regarding paternity in Tennessee are quite complex. We advise you consult attorneys who are experienced in paternity issues to ensure your rights are protected.