Have Divorce Questions? Guest Blog by Family Law Attorney, Lucie Brackin

divorce attorney memphisWe hope you never need a divorce. But just in case you have questions about what a divorce in Tennessee involves, we’ve invited Guest Blogger and Family Law Attorney Lucie Brackin to fill you in. Lucie is a partner with The Landers Firm PLC. Here’s what Lucie has to say about getting a divorce in Tennessee:

Filing a Divorce Case

The first step is to file a Complaint for Divorce and pay the filing fee to the Court Clerk’s office.

How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced?

If you have minor children, there’s a 90 day waiting period before the Court can grant a divorce.  If you don’t have minor children, the waiting period is 60 days.

Discovery in a Divorce Case

The first formal phase of a divorce is called “discovery” because that’s what the lawyers are doing – discovering everything they need to know about the parties, the finances, the children, etc.  This usually involves answering a list of questions under oath, producing documents to the other side, and depositions.

Child Custody in Tennessee

In Tennessee, the Court will not use the word “custody” in your case.  The terms now used under Tennessee law are Primary Residential Parent and Alternate Residential Parent.  However, these titles don’t hold the significance you might think.  Regardless of who holds these titles, each parent’s specific rights to make major decisions regarding the children’s education, health, religion, and extra-curricular activities will have to be determined and specifically stated in the Permanent Parenting Plan that must be either agreed upon or ordered by the Court.

Parenting Time (or Visitation)

Courts in Tennessee do not use the term “visitation.”’  The legal term in Tennessee is “parenting time.”’  The Permanent Parenting Plan form outlines the day-to-day and holiday schedules.  This must all be completed before a Court will approve a Permanent Parenting Plan.

Child Support in Tennessee

If minor children are involved, there must be a Child Support Worksheet attached to the Permanent Parenting Plan.

In order to calculate child support, you must include:

  • number of days per year each parent has the children (which is basically the number of overnights the children spend with each parent per year),
  • each parent’s gross monthly income,
  • cost that each parent pays for the children’s insurance,
  • cost of work-related child-care.

After the “guideline support” is determined by the worksheet, there may be deviations (upward or downward) that may be allowable, such as recurring medical expenses, extra-curricular activities, or special lessons.

“Minor children” are defined as children who have not yet turned 18 years of age and graduated from high school. So, child support sometimes has to be paid after a child has turned 18 but has not yet graduated or after a child has graduated but has not yet turned 18.

College Expenses as Child Support

Courts in Tennessee cannot order parents to pay college expenses, although parents can enter into a contractual agreement to pay college expenses for their children.  It is very important to talk to a lawyer before you enter into a contract to pay college expenses for your children.

Division of Assets and Liabilities in a Divorce

The first determination that the Court will make is whether the asset or debt in question is “marital” or “separate.”  Generally, separate assets are those that one of you had before the marriage, that you inherited, or that was given to you as a gift, and which you continued to hold separately.  With the exception of some kinds of retirement funds, increases in value to those separate items will also be separate unless marital efforts have been used to cause the increase in value.  Separate assets are typically retained by their original owner and the other spouse cannot make a claim to those items.  There are, of course, special exceptions that apply to special circumstances.  Marital assets are nearly everything else, including things like closely held businesses or professional practices.

The division of marital assets occurs without considering the fault of a party (“grounds for divorce”), and the guiding principal of division is that the Court is to achieve “equity” with the division, but “equity” does not necessarily mean “equal.”

Alimony (or Spousal Support)

There is no formula to calculate alimony in Tennessee.  To calculate alimony, the Court considers many factors, the most important of which are “need” and “ability to pay.”  While there are no hard and fast rules, you can typically assume that the longer the length of the marriage and the greater the disparity in the parties’ earning capacities, the greater and longer the alimony award.  Conversely, the shorter the marriage and the closer the parties’ earning capacities are, the less likely it is that there will be a significant alimony award or any at all.

The types of alimony available in Tennessee are as follows and they are applied based upon which type best fits the facts, circumstances, and needs in your case:

  • In Futuro Alimony:  This is typically “lifetime” alimony and is reserved for very unusual cases or long-term marriages where one spouse will never be able to fully support himself or herself.  It is typically taxable to the recipient, deductible by the payor, and modifiable by both parties under the right circumstances.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony:  This is typically used in circumstances where one spouse needs support to allow him or her to get to a financial place where support is no longer needed – perhaps to complete an education or to allow a minor child to begin school.  It is typically taxable to the recipient, deductible by the payor, and modifiable by both parties under the right circumstances.
  • In Solido Alimony:  This type of alimony is also known as “lump sum alimony” and it is typically used to balance out an unequal division of property or to ensure the transfer of a certain sum of money to a spouse without creating tax consequences and without allowing modifiability.
  • Transitional Alimony:  This form of alimony is typically used in circumstances that don’t fit other types of alimony and “rehabilitation” is either not possible or not needed.  It is typically of short duration, and it may be taxable or non-taxable, and it may also be modifiable or non-modifiable, depending on what is trying to be achieved.

Resolution of a Divorce Case in Tennessee

Most divorce cases will be settled through mediation, which the Courts often order if the parties do not voluntarily attend.  If you are unable to resolve your case, your divorce will be set for trial.

Need a lawyer in Memphis?

We would be honored to help you with your legal issue. View our practice areas here.

In addition to Memphis, we also represent clients in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Cordova, Eads, Germantown, Lakeland, Nashville, Ashland City, Belmont, Hillsboro, Brentwood, Belle Meade, Forest Hills, Franklin, Greenhill, Hendersonville, Nolensville, Nolan’s Park, Oak Hill, and surrounding areas. We also work in Mississippi.

WISEMAN BRAY PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38103

(901) 372-5003

EMAIL US HERE.

divorce attorney in Memphis

Lucie Brackin, Guest Blogger

 

 

 

What does my spouse get when I die? Ask the Probate Lawyer.

will for spouse, ask probate lawyerMany people believe that if you die without a will, that everything passes to your surviving spouse. Did you know that is not necessarily true? Read on to learn more from a probate lawyer about what a surviving spouse is entitled to in Tennessee.

If you die WITHOUT a Will

If you die without a Will, the distribution of your assets will be governed by the Tennessee laws of intestate succession.  If you die “intestate,” it means that you die without leaving a Will. This is what will happen if you die without a Will:

  • If you have a surviving spouse, he or she will receive your entire Estate if you had no descendants at the time of your death.
  • If you are survived by descendants, your spouse is entitled to either (a) one-third (1/3) of your estate, or (b) a child’s share, whichever is greater.

If you die WITH a Will

Even if you die with a Will that does not include your spouse, he or she will still be entitled to a portion of your assets. Your surviving spouse may take what it called an “Elective Share” against your Estate, which is based on the length of the marriage.  There is a sliding scale, but the maximum Elective Share a surviving spouse can take is forty percent (40%) of the net Estate if the couple was married nine (9) years or more.

You Cannot Disinherit Your Spouse in Tennessee

Whether you die with or without a Will, in all but a few rare cases, your spouse will be entitled to a portion of your Estate. Generally, you must be legally divorced from your spouse in order to prevent that person from receiving a share of your Estate.

Other Allowances for Spouses

Other allowances for surviving spouses (which may also apply to minor children) include a $50,000 exemption for personal property, a reasonable allowance for a year’s worth of support according to the previous standard of living, and either the right to the homestead or $5,000 from the proceeds of the sale of the home.  In some cases, a surviving spouse might be entitled to certain accounts of less than $10,000 or wages due to the decedent if no formal probate estate is opened.

Need a Will? Need a Probate Lawyer? 

Please contact Wiseman Bray PLLC at 901-372-5003 or email us here if you have questions about leaving a Will, Estate Planning, or Probate issues.  We have a team of lawyers ready to help you.

 

Estate Planning And Divorce

estate planning lawyer, probate lawyer

Estate Planning And Divorce

Let’s talk about Estate Planning and Divorce. Will a divorce affect your Will? Over the years, many people have asked us about how a divorce will affect a Will or Estate Plan. Sometimes the question comes out of curiosity, and at other times, the person asking has just gone through a divorce. The best time to review or establish an estate plan is after the occurrence of a major life event.  In fact, these are often the only times many people even think about estate planning.

Major life events may include marriage, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member. Unfortunately, divorce is also a major life.

Beneficiary and Executor Designations

Typically, married couples have their estate plans drafted at the same time, and the terms of each plan are very similar. More often than not, one spouse has named the other as the executor of his or her Estate, as well as the sole beneficiary of his or her Estate.  While  Tennessee law contains a statute that essentially disinherits a person’s spouse in the event of divorce, that statute does not affect beneficiary designations or the titling or re-titling of assets.  Therefore, we do not advise that you rely on this statute alone.

In addition to reviewing your Will and other estate planning documents after a divorce, it is also important to  review the ownership structure and beneficiary designations of any assets that will not pass under the terms of your Will, such as retirement plans or life insurance policies.  Many assets, such as these, do not pass pursuant to the terms of a person’s Will, but rather will be distributed according to beneficiary designations.

Legal Guardians for Minor Children

In Tennessee, the only way to designate a legal guardian for a minor child in the event that something should happen to you is under the terms of your Will.   The person you choose to designate as the guardian of your child while you are married may greatly differ from whom you would select to fulfill the role after a divorce.

Let us help you with Estate Planning and Divorce Issues

As you can see, it is extremely important to undergo a comprehensive review of your assets and estate plan in the event of a divorce. If you have recently experienced a divorce or other major life event, or if you would like us to create or review an estate plan for you, please call us at 901-372-5003. We’re ready to help you.