We often receive calls from people whose spouse has presented them with legal documents asking for a divorce. The divorce, however, is something they both want and all they have to do on their end is sign the papers they are presented with.
Do you sign them without consulting with an attorney? That’s a tough call.
First know, it’s extremely difficult to get those papers set aside once you sign them. Most Judges will not set them aside unless you can show you were under duress or there was fraud committed. Both are very hard to prove.
Second, once you sign, the legal standard to change those papers when it comes to custody of children becomes more difficult. And there is no way most times to change a property settlement agreement,
The papers you have been presented with can have life long consequences and the cost involved in changing them often is significant.
Our office charges an hourly consultation fee to review the papers with you. We can advise what the law is and if we believe the papers are fair or not fair. We can also undertake to fully represent you if you need us to negotiate them before signing them.
If you decide to sign them without an attorney consultation, then read every single line and be sure you completely understand the legal ramifications of certain obligations you are agreeing to. There is no harm in not signing them until you completely understand them
Uncontested Divorces are amicable and less expensive divorces. In the best of all worlds, all divorces could be handled in this manner. However, you usually need two reasonable people to have an uncontested divorce. Often, however, even the most unreasonable person agrees to an uncontested divorce, once they realize in Tennessee they can’t stop the divorce and if they try, it can cost them quite a bit of money.
With an uncontested divorce, we prepare the Complaint for Divorce, Marital Dissolution Agreement, Permanent Parenting Plan and Child Support Worksheet (if there are children), Qualified Domestic Relations Order (if there are retirements to divide), Quit Claim Deed (if there is real estate to divide) and the Final Decree of Divorce.
You can be divorced as soon as 60 days, if you do not have children together under 18 or 90 days if you do have children.
Often, I can go to Court on your behalf and neither of you have to step into the courthouse. During our meetings, I explain what the law is when it comes to the division of your marital and separate property and then I prepare the legal documents based on your agreement with your spouse.
If one party doesn’t agree to the divorce or refuses to sign an agreement under the terms that are fair to you, then the only other way to get a divorce in the state of Tennessee is to file contested. Filing first in these cases can be very important. That is why it’s important to meet with an attorney and know your rights before you actually file or tell your spouse you are considering filing.
In contested divorces, we prepare a different type of Complaint for Divorce where we will state your grounds for divorce. There are quite a few grounds for divorce in Tennessee and we can help you determine which of those the Judge will approve on your behalf. Contested divorces are served on the other party by the Sheriff or a private process server. Your spouse has thirty days to answer the Complaint. He files a formal Answer to what we filed on your behalf.
Sometimes, however, we can’t wait thirty days to get into Court.
In those cases, we file the appropriate motions so that the Court can make temporary decisions on custody, child support, visitation and who will live where and pay what until the final hearing.
After the initial hearing, we often find the case will settle. Some people just need to “meet the Judge” and then they become more reasonable. For those that don’t, we proceed to the final trial once all the assets and debts are determined.
At trial, the Judge will determine custody, visitation, child support, alimony and the division of the marital estate including your home and personal property.
Divorce is difficult. No doubt about it.
But what I often tell my clients is that that first meeting with me, is usually one of the worst days of your life. You are upset and don’t know where to turn. You have no idea what your legal rights are and are often scared and worried about your future.
We know how to protect you during the next few months, to insure when it is over, you are not left financially and personally devastated.
Often, I tell my clients, that one year from our first meeting – they will be a totally, different person and I won’t even recognize them.
This happened to me just the other day. I walked into Court to handle a post divorce matter for a client that I had not seen in over a year. I didn’t recognize her.
She had lost weight, cut her hair, dressed in bright colors and had a huge smile on her face. She looked amazing! And reminded me that I had told her she would be a different person one year from our first meeting.