Tennessee state divorce paper work

The extent of discovery usually depends on the size and make-up of the marital estate. Performing a business valuation can be one of the most expensive aspects of any divorce. In some divorces, the parties agree to exchange discovery informally, without using the formal legal system.

This can reduce costs significantly. One reason a lawyer may advise against proceeding with discovery informally, even though it saves money, is that the documents produced by an opposing party will not be produced under oath.

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Further, if one spouse lies or omits assets under oath during the discovery process, the other spouse can use that lie or omission to allege circumstances sufficient to undo the divorce because he or she relied on the misstatements or incomplete production of documents. Depositions are another common form of discovery. At a deposition, a lawyer can ask a follow-up question right away.

One important disadvantage to the deposition process is that it can be very expensive.

For Tennessee couples with children, divorce creates a new set of parenting challenges. Some aspects of the parent-child relationship will change, hopefully for the better. In Tennessee, divorcing parents must attend a four-hour parenting-through-divorce class before a divorce is granted. The GAL will often be a lawyer but can also be a mental health professional or a social worker.

Usually, the GAL will write a report with recommendations to the judge. Most judges will not read the report until the trial begins. In high-conflict cases, the GAL may also be deposed by one or both attorneys. If no agreement is reached and the court must resolve the dispute, the judge will read the report and will likely be influenced by it.

How to File for a Divorce in Tennessee Without an Attorney

Usually, the GAL also testifies at the trial. Instead of, or in addition to, a Guardian Ad Litem, a court can order an independent child custody evaluation by an experienced and independent court-appointed forensic psychologist. Normally, the evaluation will include mental health evaluations of the parties. Custody evaluations by psychologists are expensive and will normally be ordered by the court only upon allegations of mental illness, drug use, or emotional abuse.

The American Psychological Association has issued guidelines for its members who conduct these evaluations, which can be helpful to read if your case involves a custody evaluation.

Tennessee State Divorce Laws

Usually, the independent court-appointed forensic psychologist will conduct psychological testing on the parents and possibly the children , interview the children, and also write and issue a written report to the judge. The psychologist usually also testifies at trial. For more information, see Miles Mason, Sr. A party may also hire a forensic psychologist as an expert witness to support his or her position.

Most often this occurs if one party says the other has some form of mental illness. The accused parent can consult with a psychologist to have that psychologist form an expert opinion to refute the allegations against and defend his or her ability to act as primary residential parent. Almost all psychologists and judges advise against calling a child as a witness in a divorce case for any reason.

There are few experiences more traumatic for a child than to be asked a question where the answer will hurt one or both parents. Many lawyers agree and will refuse to call a child as a witness unless the matter involves severe physical or emotional abuse.


Many divorcing parents mistakenly believe that at some age a child has the right to decide with which parent to live with. That is false. No judge will allow the preference of a child alone to determine who gets custody case. The judge must always consider the best interest of the child.

Unfortunately, one of the most common abuses of the divorce process is using the children as pawns — raising custody and visitation issues to gain an advantage in financial matters. These tactics unnecessarily increase the tension in the family, which inevitably hurts the children and makes settlement much more difficult. If the judge interprets these tactics as an attempt at vengeance, the consequences can be devastating.

A Guide to Divorce in Tennessee

Most judges believe that violating these common-sense parenting rules demonstrates that the parent was either unwilling or unable to exercise good judgment. Related Link: Visitation and Residential Time. The next phase of the divorce — often the final phase — is the negotiated settlement.

Most lawyers and judges agree that a settlement will almost always be more favorable than the outcome of a contested trial. For example, a mother who expects to be awarded primary residential parent status can negotiate that the father will pay certain college expenses for the children. Also, divorcing spouses who settle can usually keep the terms and process private.

And enforcement of a court order can be very expensive.

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Another advantage of the negotiated settlement is that a divorcing party can retain more control. While a lawyer may recommend for or against a proposed settlement, the final decision still remains with the client. In one common method, one of the lawyers will be the first to draft a proposed Marital Dissolution Agreement and, if there are children, a proposed Permanent Parenting Plan.

The other party can respond by making a counter-proposal, requesting mediation, seeking discovery, or asking for additional information. Mediation is an informal settlement process in which the parties meet with a neutral third party who has been trained in mediation. Mediation is discussed in more detail in other portions of these materials. In divorces, mediation is generally required prior to setting the case for trial. While mediation is not required by law in cases not involving children, many judges will order divorcing parties without children to attend mediation prior to granting a trial setting.

Related Link: Trial or Settlement? Depending upon how much the parties can learn through discovery before mediation, preparing for mediation may require either a little or a great deal of effort. In an average contested case, trial preparation can cost three to ten times as much as mediation preparation. Some courts will force a trial date on the parties to give them a deadline for negotiations.

Other courts will require the parties to apply for a trial date.

In either event, preparing for trial can be the most expensive of all the processes previously discussed. No one wants a trial.

How Do I Find Divorce Records?

Trials are expensive and unpleasant. But a trial is sometimes the only alternative to a continuing stream of unreasonable settlement demands or an unwillingness to negotiate at all. Placing your future in the hands of a judge, who may be much different from you, is very risky, but may be necessary. Court rules require the lawyers to prepare pre-trial briefs for the court, outlining important issues of the case. Judges usually read these briefs before the trial or scan them during opening statements.

The plaintiff may be granted some limited opportunity to offer rebuttal testimony, and then the court decides whether or not to hear closing statements. A divorce trial can last from one morning to several weeks. A judge can hold one trial on custody and then have another trial on property division and alimony. Although unusual, the judge can even hear more than one case at a time. Once the judge issues a decision, the parties have thirty days to appeal. The time necessary for an appeal is usually between eight and eighteen months, depending upon the length of the trial and the complexity and number of legal issues involved.

There is no time limit for the Court of Appeals to render its decision, but cases typically take another nine to twelve months to finish. The Supreme Court of Tennessee is not required to hear any particular case. Yes, you may change your name at the time your divorce decree is entered.

In fact, if you think you may want to change your name this is the easiest time to change it.

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If a marriage is annulled, the marriage is treated as if it never existed. Marriages can be void or voidable. A marriage is voidable if: either party is under age; one or both parties lack capacity; there is no consent; fraud; mistake; force; impotency; the woman is pregnant by another; or the marriage is not consummated. Void marriages are serious violations of public policy.