Debunking Common Misconceptions about Divorce in Tennessee

As soon as it gets out that you are starting the divorce process, unsolicited advice starts pouring in. There is so much information, so many statistics, and so many “it happened to me” stories that it all can begin to blur together. And right now, you need to be thinking as clearly as possible to ensure you are making the right decisions for yourself and your family.

Having an accurate understanding of divorce and a keen eye for separating truth from fiction can help make the divorce process feel a little more manageable for you. And not only can it put your mind at ease, but it can also help you avoid what could end up being costly mistakes during the process. Below we discuss seven common misconceptions about divorce in Tennessee.

1. The Custodial Parent Can Withhold Visitation if They Do Not Receive Court Ordered Child Support

Child support and parenting time are two completely separate issues. If the custodial parent stops receiving child support payments, they do not have a right to withhold parenting time.

In this case, the custodial parent would need to take the matter to court to resolve the issue. By withholding court-ordered visitation, the custodial parent could face legal ramifications that could include criminal charges and even jail time.

2. You Can’t Get Divorced if Your Spouse Contests the Divorce

Divorces in Tennessee can be either contested or uncontested. When one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers, that is considered a contested divorce. When this happens, the case will be required to go to court. A judge will then establish why the party is contesting the divorce, and begin the process.

3. If Your Spouse Cheated on You, You Get Everything

Adultery is considered “fault” grounds for divorce in Tennessee. The only time adultery impacts the division of marital property is if the cheating spouse used marital finances to pay for the affair (vacations, hotels, expensive gifts, etc.).

4. The Mother Will Always Be Awarded Primary Custody

As of 2018, 4 out of 5 times, the mother becomes the custodial parent after a divorce. And while this has historically been the case, Tennessee Code § 36-6-106 states that the courts can award custody to either parent, both parents (shared parenting), or joint custody.

The courts will make the decision based on the best interest of the child. Typically the decision includes regular contact with both parents and joint custody.

5. You Have to Get a Divorce in the State You Got Married In

You don’t have to file for divorce in the same state you were married in, but there are some stipulations on when you can file for divorce in Tennessee. Tennessee Code § 36-4-105 states that you must be a resident of Tennessee for at least six months before filing for divorce.

6. All Marital Assets Will Be Split 50/50

Tennessee is an “equitable distribution” state. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. It simply means that the division of marital assets must be fair.

There are certain factors that the judge will consider when determining how they will split marital assets. Some of these factors include the duration of your marriage, each spouse’s family responsibilities, the earning potential for each spouse when the assets were acquired, and the financial status of each spouse.  

7. If an Asset Is Only in One Spouse’s Name, They Get To Keep It

Marital property includes assets as well as debts that have accumulated during the marriage. Assets and debts incurred before the marriage are considered separate property. In a contested divorce, the judge will divide all marital property fairly and equitably regardless of who’s name the asset is in.

Find A Lawyer That Will Fight For You

Divorces get messy. You need an experienced divorce attorney who is an expert in family law—someone who will help you set realistic goals—someone that you trust.

Whether you’re filing for divorce or have been served divorce papers, you may feel like your world has come crashing down around you. It’s a very vulnerable and confusing place to be in, which is why you need the best legal counsel possible to navigate all the ins and outs of divorce law.

Attorney Hunter Fowler has provided legal services to many individuals in your exact situation and will work with you through every detail of your divorce proceedings to ensure the final outcome is what you want for yourself and your family. Contact Hunter Fowler today to get the legal counsel you deserve.