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For more information on Tennessee divorce law, see Divorce Basics in in a divorce -- including information on what happens to the family home and how your.

When asking such people for lawyer referrals, it is important to explain to the type of legal problem at issue.

If someone had a similar type of problem and was satisfied with his or her lawyer, it might make sense to consult with that lawyer. When filing for divorce, it is permissible to give a mailing address, rather than a home address, to prevent an abusive spouse from finding the individual seeking a divorce.

Either the husband or wife must have resided in Tennessee for at least six months before filing a divorce complaint unless the grounds for divorce occurred in Tennessee.

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How Much Does Divorce Cost in Tennessee?

The divorce takes effect on the day the judge signs the final decree of divorce. In mediation, the husband and wife will work with a trained mediator to discuss their problems and make their own decisions. Mediators do not make decisions for the parties. They provide a safe environment where the husband and wife can each communicate confidentially.

Mediation is rarely appropriate, however, if there has been violence or intimidation between spouses.


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The spouse who has committed the violence or intimidation often continues to exert power over the abused spouse during mediation so that the parties do not have equal power in reaching decisions. For this reason, if one spouse has an order of protection, if a court has found domestic abuse between the spouses, or if one spouse has been criminally convicted of domestic abuse, Tennessee law requires that a court can order mediation only if the abused spouse consents to mediation.

If the abused spouse consents, he or she may have a support person of his or her choice present during the mediation.


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  5. The support person may be an attorney or an unpaid advocate. CMC mediators are trained volunteers from various backgrounds. They include University of Tennessee faculty, attorneys, social workers, corporate executives, teachers, business persons, retirees, and other community members. Mediation can be quicker and less costly than litigation. To be divorced, parties still need to file a suit in court, but mediation can help spouses reach an agreement to present to the court so that a trial is unnecessary. Legal Separation In Tennessee, there is an alternative for married couples who cannot live together as husband and wife but who do not want an absolute divorce.

    Alimony One spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to support the other. Temporary support or alimony, often called alimony pendente lite, may be awarded pending the grant of a divorce and is distinguished from an award of alimony after the divorce has been finalized.

    Legal Separation vs Divorce in Tennessee

    The court may decide to award custody to either party or to both parties in joint custody or shared parenting. In shared parenting, the primary residential parent is the one with whom the child will reside the majority of the time, and the alternate residential parent is the other parent. In shared parenting, major decision-making authority will often be joint, even if the child resides with one parent more than the other during the year.

    Tennessee Divorce FAQs

    Even if a parent is not awarded residential parenting time with a child, the parent typically will still have visitation rights. When making a decision about custody, the court looks at many factors, including who has taken care of the children in the past, whether either parent has a problem with drugs or alcohol, whether either parent is violent, whether either parent is living with someone else without the benefit of marriage, and whether the parents are morally fit.

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    All divorcing or separating parents in Tennessee must attend a parenting education seminar and must suggest a plan for how their children will be brought up after the divorce. Although the court expects most parents to make these decisions together, joint decision-making may not be possible when one parent has abused the other. Parents who cannot agree on a plan will usually have to participate in mediation to decide on a plan.

    Parents can ask the court not to require them to agree on a parenting plan or to participate in mediation; however, most often this request will only be granted when one parent has abused the other. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, each one must suggest a plan separately. When it comes to the custody of their children, married parents have equal rights to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the lives of their children unless and until a court orders otherwise.

    If one parent leaves the children with the other parent, it may be used against the parent who left later during the divorce proceedings. If a spouse who has been abused leaves the abusive spouse, it can be difficult to keep the children while the abused spouse tries to get on her or his feet. Sometimes relatives who keep children get attached to them and request custody of them from the court. The laws allow anyone to ask for custody. If a parent leaves the children with someone else, the court may decide that the parent does not have enough interest in the children to be awarded custody.

    It is especially important for a spouse who has been abused to take the children when leaving an abusive spouse. When the abused spouse leaves, there will be no one left at home to protect the children from the abuser. When an abuser loses his first victim, he abuses anyone else who is available, even his own children. If a parent gives up custody in court to a spouse or anyone else, it is hard to get the children back later. The court does not like to move children around without a good reason. Often, the Court will try to maximize the amount of time each parent has to spend with the children and will give both parents equal parenting rights and decision-making.

    The State of Tennessee created a formula that determines the child support obligation owed to either parent. The formula will then set a specific chid support obligation for the parents. Our attorneys will be able to talk with you in more detail about your specific case and any concerns you may have.

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