Deciding to pursue a divorce is one of the most difficult and emotional decisions you will ever make, particularly when children are involved. Divorce also involves business and legal questions that must be resolved. It can be an emotional and stressful process. The negative emotions associated with divorce are responsible for more than hurt feelings; they affect the final outcome of settlement negotiations. More importantly, if children are involved, they will suffer. It is in your best interest to approach divorce from an amicable perspective. This will allow you to approach negotiations from a financial viewpoint, which is critical for reaching a successful settlement. It will also allow you to focus on your most important asset, your children, which is critical for helping your children through this difficult process. We can help you understand the basic issues of family law, and provide answers to your questions.
What about Property Division?
If you and your spouse are able to agree on how to divide your property, then the agreement will be documented with what is called a Marital Dissolution Agreement. If you are unable to agree, you will go to court, and the judge will decide and order an equitable distribution of your property.
Factors considered in deciding property division?
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities and financial needs of each of the parties;
- The tangible or intangible contribution by one (1) party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
- The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, depreciation or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including the contribution of a party to the marriage as homemaker, wage earner or parent, with the contribution of a party as homemaker or wage earner to be given the same weight if each party has fulfilled its role;
- The value of the separate property of each party;
- The estate of each party at the time of the marriage;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective;
- The tax consequences to each party, costs associated with the reasonably foreseeable sale of the asset, and other reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the asset;
- The amount of social security benefits available to each spouse; and
- Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties
Factors considered in deciding debt division can be difficult to determine. Tennessee law states that the Court will consider the following factors:
- The debt's purpose;
- Which party incurred the debt;
- Which party benefited from incurring the debt; and
- Which party is best able to repay the debt.
What about Child Custody?
Both parents have the right to visitation with their children regardless of divorce. The laws of Tennessee require that one parent be designated as the primary residential parent of the child or children. The most common types of visitation arrangements include:
- Alternate weekend visitation with non-residential parent.
- Sharing of the child or children according to Fall, Spring and Summer breaks.
- Mid week or weekday visitation.
- Alternating holiday visits.
- Alternating birthdays.
- Open telephone and mail communications.
The determining factor in all child custody cases is what is in the best interest of the children. Factors to include in the determination of the child's best interest include:
- The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
- The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver.
- The importance of continuity in the child's life.
- The stability of the family unit of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child if twelve years of age or older.
- Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child or to the other parent.
- The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home.
- Each parent's past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities.
All of these factors are considered by the Court when making custody determinations. Children need both parents in their lives. Generally if parents can agree on visitation schedules that are in the best interest of the children, the Court will consider the agreement of the parents.
What about Child Support?
We help both mothers and fathers. Questions of concern when contemplating divorce include: Can you get the support you need to keep living? Will you have to pay alimony? How is support calculated?
You should know that alimony, or support, can be awarded to either spouse. Employment possibilities and earning capacity of the spouses tend to cause the greatest influence on the decision. We will provide answers and assist you in understanding what type of support you can expect to receive or support obligations you may owe. Many factors are considered in determining child support including both parties income, ability to earn income, and the number of days your child spends with each parent. Divorce can be a complex process, and we are here to help you through it.
Many couples have a difficult time reaching an agreement about how to divide their property or the custody arrangement with their children. Because the specific rules in each state vary significantly and because the division of property depends on the complexity of your assets and liabilities, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney for assistance if you anticipate the division of property is likely to be contentious in your divorce. Contact Keeton & Perry, PLLC., so that we can start listening.