This information is being furnished to you so that you may have a better understanding of the procedures involved in divorce and similar cases.
There are two types of divorce in Tennessee – No Fault and Fault.
A. In No Fault divorce, there is no necessity to blame either party with wrongdoing. The grounds are irreconcilable differences. No Fault takes a minimum of 60 days from the date of filing if there are no minor children, and 90 days in case of minor children.
B. Fault Divorce requires that the filing party accuse the other spouse of misconduct. This does not have to be any terrible act, just acts recognized by law. It can be as little as telling you he or she “doesn’t love you and won’t live with you”.
The first formal step in a divorce case is the filing in Court of the “Petition for Absolute Divorce”. Before we can prepare your petition, we need your cooperation in giving us certain “Statistical Data” and also in giving us “Divorce Data”, which contains full details of the reasons why you are seeking a divorce. This office prepares your Petition bases on the information furnished by you. You will read the petition after we have prepared it, approve it and sign it, and then it is filed in Court.
The second step is that the other party must either file an answer and/or cross-petition within thirty days after the petition has been served on him or her, or if he or she does not, you are entitled to have an order showing that no answer was filed and that the case is uncontested.
Generally a divorce case requires from two to six months to be heard but circumstances can make a case take longer. You can understand that contested cases take longer than uncontested cases.
Obviously, there is much worry and anxiety connected with a divorce case. We cannot eliminate this, but we can help you if we explain a few of the more common problems.
- Child custody and visitation pending the final hearing. This is set by the Judge if the parties cannot agree. We urge you to cooperate with the other party on visitation for your sake and that of the child.
- Property Matters. Most property matters are decided only on the final hearing. Courts do not divide property in the middle of the case. It is entirely proper for the parties to agree to a property settlement, subject, however, to the approval of the Court.
- Court Orders. You must obey the letter and spirit of every order the Court makes or you can be cited for contempt. A copy of all Orders will be furnished to you by this office.
- Witnesses. You will need witnesses to prove the matters stated in your divorce petition or answer. Such witnesses are better if they come voluntarily, but we can subpoena them. We must talk to your witnesses prior to trial.
- Dismissing the Case. You can drop your part of a divorce case at any time. I am pleased, of course, if you decide to reconcile.
- Money Payments. All payments of money ordered by the Court must be made promptly and into the Office of the Court Clerk so that a record will be available if you are ever questioned.
- Granting a Divorce. No lawyer can guarantee that you will be granted a divorce. The Judges who hear such cases are well trained, dedicated men or women who follow the law in hearing your case. The facts determine the outcome. We will represent you to the best of our ability.
- Advice of Nonlawyers. Do not worry about legal advice given by well meaning friends and neighbors. If they are not lawyers, they are not really qualified to advise you.
- Conduct during case. You are, of course, still a married person and must so conduct yourself until a divorce decree has been granted to you and is final.
- Conduct towards other Party. There are obviously serious difficulties between husband and wife who have arrived at the point of divorce. For you sake, and that of the children, as well as that of the other party, we suggest that you refrain from talk, conversations, discussions, and actions that reflect a bitter attitude. The more decency you show toward the other party, the less painful this divorce process is for all concerned.
- Reconciliation. If you wish to attempt a reconciliation, but do not want your case dismissed, there is a procedure whereby the Judge can enter an order permitting such reconciliation. If you have sexual relations with your spouse after filing the divorce petition and do not obtain such an order, then your divorce petition must either be dismissed or amended and this will delay your case should you desire to proceed with the divorce.