If you’re considering leaving your spouse, you need a Nashville TN divorce lawyer who understands the law and the process
In all of family law, there is no more contentious or complex process than filing for divorce in Nashville, Tennessee. That’s not surprising given the pain and trauma divorce can have on couples and the complications that come with determining the distribution of assets. Davidson county, home to Nashville, is a high growth market with an over-burdened court system that takes expertise to navigate and get the best end result.
At Lawyers People Love, we balance powerful, effective advocacy with compassion and understanding. We understand both the practical difficulties of filing for divorce in Nashville and the emotional turmoil divorce can wreak on you, your spouse, and your children.
The decision to file for divorce is not one that you take lightly. But it’s also one of the most complex legal processes to navigate successfully. Whether you’re seeking to file for divorce, or you’ve been served with divorce papers, Lawyers People Love is here to help you navigate divorce in Nashville.
With this helpful guide, you’ll get an overview of the terms you need to understand, the primary kinds of divorce you’ll encounter, and how to get the ball rolling to file for divorce in Nashville courts.
Important terms that may come up during your divorce in Nashville
Divorcing your spouse can be a frightening process. It doesn’t help that the process of divorce itself is filled with terminology and jargon that can confuse clients and muddle the process.
Here are a few of the most common terms it’s important for you to know before you begin the divorce process.
Divorce – The legal process through which a married couple dissolves a marriage, divides assets, provides spousal support, and establishes custody of any minor children
Legal Separation – A legal agreement between two spouses that entitles both spouses to live independent lives from their spouse; as with divorce, all questions of property, spousal support, and custody of minors must be agreed upon
Plaintiff – The spouse who is seeking the divorce and files the divorce complaint
Defendant – The spouse who receives the divorce complaint
Complaint – A legal document filed on behalf of the plaintiff seeking a divorce; the first filing in a divorce proceeding; Also known as a complaint for divorce, the complaint establishes grounds for divorce and makes the initial requests for support, child custody arrangements, and the distribution of marital and separate propertyAnswer – A legal document filed on behalf of the defendant answering any questions posed in the complaint; May also include a counter-complaint
Counter-Complaint – A legal document filed on behalf of the defendant that denies claims made by the plaintiff, seek dismissal of the divorce complaint, and make counter-requests to any demands contained in the complaint for support, custody, and distribution of property
Discovery – the process through which lawyers representing both parties gain information about assets, expenses, property and more; discovery typically begins when neither party can agree to terms
Alimony – Money paid by one spouse to another spouse for maintaining household, living expenses, and other costs previously paid by the defendant in the divorce; also known as spousal support, these payments are not the same as child support
Child Support – Money paid by one parent to another for the support, maintenance, and care of minor children
Assets – Any properties or money held jointly by the two parties; also known as marital property, assets are usually considered any property or money purchased, earned, saved, or gained during the marriage, with a few exceptions, such as assets gained through inheritance or assets protected by a prenuptial agreement
Negotiated Settlement – Usually the final phase in the divorce process where both spouses agree on distribution of assets, spousal support, child support, and other matters; negotiated settlement is almost always the preferred method for achieving a divorce
Mediation – The process through which a court-approved mediator works with both spouses and their attorneys to resolve any disputes about assets, support, and custody (saves money)
Trial – A hearing before a judge that occurs when neither party can reach an agreement on the dissolution of the marriage and distribution of assets, support, or child custody; At trial, the judge will make determinations on any unsettled matters in a ruling known as the divorce decree
Motion – a hearing before a judge that occurs while the divorce is pending when the parties cannot reach an agreement on an issue that needs to be resolved while the divorce is pending, but before a trial
With an understanding of these basic terms, you can see that divorce does not have to be a traumatic or complicated process for spouses who wish to dissolve their union. In fact, when couples seeking divorce reach out to Lawyers People Love, frequently our team finds two individuals who can pursue an uncontested divorce.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Nashville
There are two primary methods to file for divorce in Nashville, depending on how the couple chooses to carry out the process — contested divorce and uncontested divorce. Understanding the differences between these two methods of divorce now can save you and your spouse time, pain, and money.
In a contested divorce, the parties engage in discovery, conduct depositions, and make numerous court filings just to create a list of assets, state demands, and establish spousal support or custody arrangements. For example, a couple may disagree over who gets the house or where the kids will live during the week. This couple will conduct discovery and then go to trial to gain their divorce.
Though they don’t have to be, contested divorces can be contentious and they are frequently called “messy” divorces. The costs of a contested divorce can be high, as well, because discovery, court filings, and attorney fees can be high.
However, many individuals choose to pursue an easier path to divorce, the uncontested divorce. Tennessee law allows for couples to negotiate terms on a wide variety of issues.
Through an uncontested divorce, couples negotiate a list of assets, determine any spousal support, and agree to any custody arrangements without engaging in the costly discovery and trial process. The result of an uncontested divorce is a faster process that can save both parties a lot of time and money. Also, an uncontested divorce is usually more amicable and spares both spouses and their children the taxing emotional process that a contested divorce can bring.
So before you engage in divorce proceedings, you should consider the kind of divorce you’ll be seeking. This may require you to reach out to your spouse, usually through a lawyer, to ask if they are willing to come to the table.
The first steps to filing divorce in Nashville
Now that you have a grasp on the divorce landscape, it’s time to get to work. Essentially, there are three steps to any divorce in Nashville courts: preparing and filing the complaint, drafting the divorce settlement, and receiving the final divorce decree. However, it’s important to note that each of these steps can vary depending on how well the two parties agree or disagree, during the proceedings.
Filing the divorce complaint
If you’re the party suing for divorce, the first step you’ll need to make is to prepare and file the initial complaint. You will sit with your divorce lawyer and provide them with your reasons for seeking a divorce. You also may be asked to provide an overview of assets, any requests for spousal support, and your ideal child custody arrangements if you have children.
After this initial consultation, your lawyer will then draw up the complaint, which they will also file in Davidson County Court. Once the complaint is filed, the lawyer will arrange to will serve your spouse with a legal notice that they have been sued for divorce. Once they’ve been served, the two of you will determine whether you will have a contested or uncontested divorce.
Contested Divorce – The answer, counter-complaints, and discovery
If your spouse chooses to contest the divorce for any reason, they will file their answer to the divorce suit. The answer may dispute allegations you’ve made against them, and it also might challenge demands or claims you’ve made about the value of assets, community property, or childcare and custody.
Also, the court may order discovery, providing attorneys representing you and your spouse the power to subpoena information about businesses or bank accounts, conduct depositions, and make any demands for spousal support.
In Tennessee, whenever two spouses cannot agree on how best to dissolve their marriage, the court may order mediation. In mediation, a third-party mediator will make recommendations to settle disputes. Also, it is not uncommon for individuals in a contested divorce to decide it is better to come to the table and negotiate a settlement in an uncontested divorce.
Uncontested Divorce – Negotiating community property, spousal support, and custody
When the two individuals agree they will divorce, their attorneys will begin drafting lists of assets, income statements, and other documents they’ll need to draft a divorce settlement. Once each party has agreed to the terms they’ve negotiated, they’ll move on to the next step of the divorce process, the hearing.
Divorce trial or hearing
Following all negotiations, discovery processes, and any mediation, the two parties will appear with their lawyers at the divorce trial or hearing. Here, a judge will review all of the divorce filings. He may ask questions about specific points in divorce agreements. He’ll also decide on any unsettled matters the couple may have.
After all assets have been divided, spousal support has been established, and child custody and support are determined, the judge will issue a divorce ruling, which formally dissolves the marriage and brings the divorce process to a close.
Schedule a free consultation today
If you are considering divorce, or if your spouse has sued you for divorce, you do not have to face this process alone. Lawyers People Love is ready to walk with you through the divorce process. To schedule a consultation, contact us today. Or, you can give us a call at 615-628-7052.