Getting an Uncontested Divorce
An Uncontested or "Agreed" Divorce from start to finish.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?The first issue to consider is the definition of uncontested divorce. It simply means that you and your spouse are willing and will be able to agree to issues such as division of property and child custody. An uncontested divorce has many advantages over a contested divorce. It is finalized quickly (60 days after filing if you have no minor children born of the marriage; 90 days if you do have minor children born of the marriage), whereas a contested divorce may take 6 months to a year or more depending on the issues involved. You will not need to appear in court during your uncontested divorce; a contested divorce will end in a trial and may require numerous court appearances before you even get to trial. Lastly, a contested divorce is more costly because your attorney will be investing much more time in case preparation and presentation.
Divorce can be ConfusingBy its nature, divorce is a stressful time of change. The process can seem daunting or confusing. Knowing what to expect throughout the process of an uncontested divorce will help alleviate some of the stress. This guide is intended as a general overview of the process of an uncontested divorce in Tennessee.
To begin the process, your attorney will ask you to fill out a packet of information. Using the information you provide, your attorney will file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce with the court. This is the beginning of your uncontested divorce and the beginning of the waiting period, as described above. So what happens during the waiting period? This is the time that you and your spouse will agree on how to divide all of your marital assets and debts (those acquired during the marriage); come to an agreement as to the payment of spousal support, if applicable; and determine the allocation of parenting time, decision making, and custody of the children. Your attorney will ask careful questions to ensure that you do not forget to include anything relevant.
This division of assets and debts will be outlined in a Marital Dissolution Agreement, referred to as an "MDA, and will address any payment of spousal support. If there are minor children of the marriage, you and your spouse will fill out a Parenting Plan. This document will outline who is the primary custodian, the daily schedule and holiday schedule of parenting time, tax exemptions, who is responsible for important decisions, who will provide insurance, and the amount of child support and how it will be paid. Your attorney will calculate child support by using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines take into account the income of each parent, the percentage of time that each parent has physical custody of the children, and certain out-of-pocket expenses, such as; health insurance and child related day care.
When your waiting period has expired, your attorney will file a Final Decree of Divorce which will incorporate the above referenced documents, and file a few other forms required on your behalf. Your case will be set for Final Hearing with the court, but you will not need to attend. A few days after your Final Hearing, your attorney will receive copies of the Final Decree of Divorce and provide them to you and your ex-spouse.
Then you're finished! There is no way to make a divorce completely stress-free, but understanding the general process and consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney will definitely make a big difference. An uncontested divorce can go very smoothly and quickly. It will require agreements and discussion with your spouse about every topic mentioned above, but once you have come to agreement, your attorney will take care of the required documents and ensure that your divorce covers every necessary aspect and becomes final.
Do You Need A LawyerThe process is straightforward; so do you really need a lawyer? The answer is always yes. Although there are numerous self-help options and you are by no means required to hire a lawyer for an uncontested divorce, there is no substitute for an attorney who is knowledgeable about the process. This is especially true if you have children together, jointly own a home or vehicles, have retirement accounts, or if one spouse is a military member. It is important to note that one single attorney cannot represent both you and your spouse. Often, one spouse will hire an attorney to create the required paperwork and the other spouse will carefully read all of the agreements and simply sign the required filings (after all, the two of you will have agreed to every term of the divorce).