CONTESTED DIVORCE SERVICES
I encourage all my clients to exhaust every opportunity to amicably settle their divorce case if possible. An uncontested divorce is generally less expensive and less time-consuming. It is a simpler procedure.
On the other hand, a contested divorce, one in which the spouses are unable to reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce, can quickly become contentious, expensive and stressful. If you and your spouse are having difficulties discussing the terms of your divorce, and you anticipate being unable to reach an agreement, I can help provide you with the advice and representation necessary to insure the protection of your rights in a divorce.
Divorce requires the parties to resolve many issues. Other than child custody issues, the terms are almost all about finances. How will the marital property be divided? How much is the property worth? Has a spouse hidden or improperly valued an asset? Who is responsible for paying for marital debt? Will alimony be paid, and how much and for how long? How much must be paid in child support?
A divorce can become contested for many reasons. Among those, there is a factual disagreement, there is a legal disagreement, or one or both spouses are unreasonable and refuse to settle the issues.
Filing for a contested divorce in Tennessee is the same procedure as filing for any other standard divorce. The spouse who starts the divorce files a Complaint for Divorce. The other spouse is served with the Complaint for Divorce and files a response to the Complaint. Typically, the parties will conduct discovery and bring the case to a hearing or hearings until the case concludes.
Discovery involves the formal request for information from the other spouse. Discovery can include written interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for admissions, the subpoena of records and oral depositions of the parties and witnesses. In addition, local rules of court and Tennessee law may require the parties to file a schedule of assets and debts, a declaration of income and expenses, a proposed parenting plan and more. Mishandled disclosures may lead to a host of problems at trial and even after the judgment.
A contested divorce can take as little or as long as the spouses allow. If the issues are simple and straight forward, the spouses may complete the discovery process quickly and proceed to formal mediation and/or request a trial date. On the other hand, a highly contested divorce can take months or years to finally resolve.
In a Tennessee contested divorce hearing, the Tennessee divorce statutes control, as well as the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and Tennessee Rules of Evidence. The spouses provide testimony. Witnesses, including expert witnesses, can provide testimony, and the parties can introduce properly authenticated exhibits and provide opening and closing statements.
Many contested divorces in Tennessee are ultimately settled at formal mediation. Having a diligent and thoroughly prepared attorney on your side can contribute to making this happen.
Since a divorce has long-lasting personal, emotional and financial consequences, it is critical that you obtain experienced and competent legal advice.
If you are facing any kind of divorce, family law, or domestic legal challenge, please contact Mr. Smith for an initial free consultation. I can help you come up with a plan for an early settlement in the context of an adversarial case; provide experience, knowledge, and value during the process; if necessary, provide experienced trial advocacy; and provide you with the benefit of 30 years of experience handling various legal matters including bankruptcy in the context of an ongoing divorce.