Brentwood Divorce Attorney

brentwood divorce attorneyAside from the death of a loved one, divorce is one of the most difficult things any person can go through. You need a compassionate, intelligent advocate to walk you through this process and protect your rights at every turn.

Divorce legally ends a marriage, along with any responsibilities and privileges that come along with being married. When going through a divorce, the couple must address issues related to property division, division of retirement funds, custody arrangements, child support and spousal support. The parties must also divide their debt, assigning financial responsibility for each debt to one spouse. Ms. Castles recognizes that divorce is an emotional journey, and she is here to walk you through the process each step of the way.

Brentwood Divorce Attorney

When you file a contested divorce, you must state “grounds” for that divorce. In Tennessee, you can file for divorce for any of the following reasons: adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse that began after the marriage, physical abuse, commission of a felony. However, the most common ground for divorce is known as “inappropriate marital conduct”, which includes all types of conduct that make the marriage unbearable or unacceptable.

When parties are unable to work out a settlement, a judge will determine the terms of a divorce. Judges will also look at the terms of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, when applicable. Contested divorces can be stressful, frustrating, time-consuming and expensive. These cases may take several months or even a couple of years to complete, and the emotional toll can be high.

Some of the more difficult issues parties must address in a divorce relate to spousal support, child custody and child support. When these issues are present, it can be more difficult to resolve disputes, making the divorce process longer, and sometimes leading to a full trial.

When possible, parties should attempt to file an uncontested divorce or to reach an agreement in mediation. When parties are able to settle their dispute, they retain control over the outcome of their case, which could shape their lives for years to come. Ms. Castles firmly believes that spouses and parents are most happy when they have a say in the outcome of the case, rather than having your future dictated to you by a judge. You know your relationship and your children better than anyone else, so do not give that power up easily. You should put forth great effort in mediation and other settlement negotiations in order to craft an agreement with which you can live.

Property Division in Divorce

Dividing property in a divorce or legal separation can be a complex process, which is why you need an experienced family law attorney to advise you on your individual financial circumstances.

Tennessee courts do not divide property “equally”, but they rather look for an “equitable” distribution. This means the courts are generally looking for what is fair in the unique circumstances of each case. Equitable does not always mean equal, though it sometimes does. Courts look at a number of factors to determine how property and debts should be divided.

When determining how to divide a couple’s property, the court will look at two types of property: separate property and marital property. Courts only divide property that is considered marital property, and separate property is awarded to the spouse that owns that property separately from the other spouse.

Typically, separate property includes items or real estate that a spouse owned prior to the marriage or property that the spouse received through inheritance or as a gift during the marriage. However, separate property can turn into marital property when it is commingled with marital property (such as depositing inherited money into a joint checking account used by both spouses). Any property obtained during the marriage, other than by gift or inheritance, is marital property. All marital property will be equitably divided by the judge. To determine whether an item will be considered separate or marital property, contact our law firm today to discuss the details of your case.

Many couples have a hard time dividing real estate, bank accounts, vehicles and retirement funds. Settlement becomes even more difficult when a small business or professional practice needs to be divided. In these situations, you need competent legal counsel to guide you through the process.

If a couple is able to reach an agreement about how to divide their property and debts, the agreement will be drafted as a Marital Dissolution Agreement, which both parties  sign. This document will be filed with the court and enforced as a contract.

Ms. Castles serves all areas of Middle Tennessee, including Nashville, Franklin, Gallatin, Columbia and Murfreesboro. As a brentwood divorce attorney, she can advise you on how the court will likely divide your property and help you work toward a resolution of your dispute. If you are considering ways to protect your assets prior to marriage, contact Ms. Castles for information about drafting prenuptial agreement that will establish how your property will be divided in the event of death or divorce. Parties may also decide to enter into a postnuptial agreement, though these contracts have special legal requirements. Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation.

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How does the divorce process work?

The first thing you need to do is contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your case and how to protect your rights.

Then, the first legal step you will take is to file a Complaint for Divorce with the court. When children are involved, a Proposed Parenting Plan must also be filed along with the Complaint, which sets forth the parenting schedule you wish to have established. Tennessee has established minimum waiting periods before a divorce can be finalized, even if all issues are resolved before that time has run. If you do not have minor children, your divorce must be on file for a minimum of 60 days. If you do have children, your divorce must be on file for a minimum of 90 days.

Once your divorce is filed, the Complaint must be served on your spouse, and your spouse will have 30 days to file a response, known as an Answer.

In almost every divorce, the parties will go through the discovery process. Discovery can take several forms: interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions or depositions. Interrogatories are questions that must be answered by the receiving spouse under oath. Requests for Production of Documents require that the receiving spouse provide copies of all requested documents. Requests for Admissions require the spouse to admit or deny certain facts related to the case. Depositions involve the parties being orally questioned, in person, about assets, debts, income and issues related to alimony, custody and child support.

Following discovery, all divorcing parties in Tennessee are required to attend mediation. At mediation, the parties, their attorneys and the mediator will work toward a resolution of some or all issues in the divorce. Mediators are typically a neutral, local attorney (one familiar with your judge), who works with both sides to negotiate an agreement.

Ultimately, if the parties are unable to settle, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, each spouse can present testimony through witnesses and can cross-examine each other. After the witnesses have testified and the attorneys present legal argument, the judge will make a decision that addresses parenting and financial issues.

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