How To Make Your Voice Heard in Your Divorce

One of the most common questions we are asked in meetings is some variation of will I have a say in the path my divorce takes? or how can I make sure that my voice is heard in my divorce case? The first time I heard this question I was honestly shocked. Now, several years down the road, I am still answering this.

The short answer: Yes! You will absolutely have a say in your own case! And we will help you know the best ways to make sure that it happens.

When you make the choice to separate and divorce a spouse, it is likely the most important thing going on in your life. You are facing not only a divorce, but also dividing assets, assigning debts, dividing retirements, and potentially selling your home.

All of these issues, standing alone, are major life changes. But all of these issues happening at once can be overwhelming without the right support. Here at our office, we offer two simple pieces of advice to ensure that your voice is heard in your divorce case.

Develop a Stable Method of Communication. Every person is different and every law firm is different. At the beginning of your case, find a method of communication that works efficiently for both you and your lawyer. Whether it is phone, email, or carrier pigeon, the most important thing is that you and your lawyer have regular access to the communication method.

When All Else Fails, Set a Meeting. If, for any reason, communication breaks down with your lawyer, make sure to select a lawyer who is open to meeting at any time, at your discretion. We often tell clients that we may be busy when they call in; however, they are always welcome to set a meeting to make sure we are on the same page.

We typically end a conversation with a potential client by telling them this: find an attorney that you are comfortable with, that you believe will understand you, and that you believe will fight for you, and hire that person. As you can tell by the two ways that you can make your voice heard, having a trusted line of communication is a critical component as well.

No one likes being treated like a number on a spreadsheet. Our team of Murfreesboro attorneys spend the time to get to know you, learn what is important to you, and know how to achieve it. If you or someone you know are considering divorce, child custody, child support, or other family law issue give us a call.

Can I Stop Parenting Time if My Ex is Behind on Child Support?

Short Answer: No!

Under Tennessee custody laws, the issues of parenting time and child support are completely separate. Courts do this so someone isn’t denied parenting rights simply because they have fallen upon hard times financially.

Unfortunately, this situation is often abused, as many people who can afford to pay child support simply don’t. And, while it may seem unfair to allow someone to continue to enforce a court order about parenting time but not follow a court order about child support, the courts have made it clear that you cannot stop parenting time simply because someone isn’t paying support.

That said, just because you can’t stop parenting time for non-payment doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. There are a number of things you can do when someone doesn’t pay child support, including enforcement and, most importantly, a possible modification of parenting time.

Importantly, one of the factors that courts look at when considering what is in the best interests of a child is the “ability to provide” for the child. If your ex has stopped paying support, but still demands to see the child (and, maddeningly, still buys gifts, takes trips, etc.), it is possible to ask the court to hold him accountable and also possibly find that his refusal to pay should reduce his parenting time.

And that’s the important note: reduce, not stop. You cannot simply stop parenting time over non-payment. You have to go to court to change the order!

If you or someone you know is facing a divorce or custody case in Rutherford County, or surrounding counties, give us a call. We can help.

How is Child Support Calculated?

In divorce, child custody, and parenting plan modification cases, calculating child support is often one of the easiest things to do.

The State of Tennessee issues what is called the “Tennessee Child Support Guidelines” which lead to the creation of the Tennessee Child Support Worksheet. The Guidelines set out the rules around Child Support. The Worksheet actually helps calculate the support amount. You can view each at the following links:

This fillable worksheet takes in the following from each parent: gross monthly income, any expenses for work related child care, routine insurance for the children, and other various expenses that you may incur monthly.

It is important to note that the Child Support Worksheet also allows for credit to be given to parents who have minor children living in their home from other relationships.

While it may appear to be straightforward, the worksheet can be complex and may involve intensive research. The assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can make all the difference in setting the right child support figure, making sure that all expenses are in there, and making sure that credit is given where credit is due.

If you or anyone in your family are either facing a divorce with children, establishing paternity, or modifying an existing parenting plan, give Scott and Chase a call for a free consultation and advice on the paths forward to help achieve what you want.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

It likely will not shock anyone to learn that one of the first questions that we are asked as divorce attorneys is something like “how long will my divorce in Rutherford County take?”

As the old lawyer jokes run, the answer is simply: it depends.

The timeline for divorce in Rutherford County varies depending on which of the two routes you choose to get you to the finish line: whether it is agreed or contested.

The Waiting Period
Regardless of whether your case is agreed upon or not, Tennessee has what is called the “cooling off period” which effectively is a mandatory waiting period before the Court will sign off on your divorce.

If there are no minor children, you are looking at sixty (60) days to wait before the judge will sign. If you do have minor children, then you are in the window of ninety (90) days. Ordinarily, after the waiting period passes, it takes the Judge a week to process and sign the documents if the parties are in agreement.

Agreed Divorce
AKA Uncontested Divorce, Irreconcilable Differences Divorce
Let’s first take on the straightforward option. An uncontested divorce is what it sounds like: it’s based on an agreement. This agreement encompasses everything that is built up during the course of a marriage and includes your stuff, your kids, your money, etc.

In this process, we are hired to draft all divorce documents necessary and to take the agreement of the parties and put it into court-approved forms and language. Between preparing, signing, and filing these documents, it usually takes a couple of weeks.

All in, and assuming that both sides sign documents within a week of drafting, you are looking at roughly three months for an agreed divorce without children and four months if you have minor children.

Contested Divorce
As straight forward as the agreed divorce timeline is, contested is the opposite.

Here, we are hired to draft a complaint for divorce and have it served by private process server on your spouse. They have thirty (30) days to respond to the complaint. If they do not, you move forward on a default basis which can usually be done right at the end of the waiting period. If your spouse does respond with their answer, then the case may take several months to resolve.

Just as in the ID divorce process, the cooling off period is still applicable. However, the difference between the two is that, unlike in the ID process where the period begins upon all the documents being filed with the Court, the period for contested divorces begins when only the complaint is filed.

Looking at the contested route from 30,000 feet above, the timeline can be as quickly as the parties can agree to terms, including the sixty (60) or ninety (90) day waiting period, or as long as it takes to resolve every outstanding issue between you and your spouse. In all, it just depends on the unique circumstances of each case.

No matter if you are facing an agreed divorce or a contested divorce, our office has experienced divorce attorneys to help you every step of the way. Feel free to give us a call to discuss.

Scott Kimberly and Chase Doscher are Criminal Defense Attorneys and Divorce Attorneys in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. If you need any assistance, you may reach us at 615-890-1099.

Do I Have to go to Court for My Divorce?

We are often asked “do I have to go to court for my divorce?” As Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyers, this is an interest we see come up all the time.

The short answer is yes, but if you have an experienced divorce lawyer and/or the right forms to use with the courts, you can waive your appearance and not have to go.

In all divorce cases, the court must sign a Final Decree of Divorce to complete the case. This Final Decree is only signed after a hearing. Typically, the parties are required to attend that hearing and give testimony. However, in recent years, our courts have allowed our clients to file an Affidavit that basically says “Hey Court, you can have that hearing without me.”

If you properly file an Affidavit, the Court will have your Final Hearing without you there, sign your Final Decree, and get you divorced.

So, again, the short answer is yes you will have a hearing, but you can skip that hearing with the right preparation and an experienced divorce lawyer in Rutherford County on your side.

Scott Kimberly and Chase Doscher practice at The Law Office of W. Scott Kimberly, located in the Historic Smith & Sellers Building on the Murfreesboro Public Square. If you or a loved one need help in divorce, child custody, or any other family law matter, we can help.