Obtaining a divorce, even when you agree, isn’t as simple as you might think. There are specific requirements for filing for an “agreed divorce.” An experienced divorce lawyer can’t tell you if you qualify. If you don’t qualify, however, your attorney may be able to help. Your lawyer will also help you understand your rights.
There are consequences to filing for an agreed divorce. Specifically, there’s no do-over. Once you enter into an agreed divorce, you can’t come back later and say you forgot to ask for alimony or you think you should have gotten a larger share of the marital property. Today’s blog will help you decide if an agreed divorce is your best option or if there are other amicable alternatives.
What are the requirements for an agreed divorce in Tennessee?
According to the Tennessee Courts, while you don’t need a lawyer, “It’s best to talk to a lawyer before starting any divorce.” However, following are the basics. To qualify for an agreed divorce when you and your spouse have children:
- One or both spouses must have lived in Tennessee for the prior six months.
- Neither spouse is pregnant.
- Both spouses agree to the divorce.
- Both spouses agree on the amount of alimony.
- Both spouses agree on how to divide the marital property.
- Both spouses sign the divorce agreement, which contains specific itemized information about your personal property and your debts. The agreement sets forth how the personal property will be divided and the terms of any alimony payments.
How can a Maryville divorce attorney help me?
The Tennessee Court suggests spouses hire a lawyer (each spouse should hire their own lawyer – with rare exceptions) if:
- You and/or your spouse own real property, have an IRS qualified pension, or have a retirement plan
- You and/or your spouse own a business
- Your spouse won’t agree to sign the agreement documents
- You have questions about the divorce process, such as your rights to marital property and alimony
- You can’t locate your spouse
- Your spouse is unduly pressuring you to agree to his/her divorce terms
- There is any domestic violence involved
There are normally two issues that need to be resolved before most Maryville spouses can file for an “agreed divorce.” The first is the division of your property. The second is alimony.
Your family lawyer helps you resolve the division of your property by:
- Identifying all the property that both spouses own starting with the bank accounts and personal possessions.
- Identifying the debts of each spouse
- Placing a value on the property such as jewelry, tools, or cars
- Explaining that the division of property isn’t automatically 50/50. If you don’t agree to how the property is divided, you may be entitled to more than 50% of the marital property. Before you make any agreement with your spouse, it’s important to understand your rights if you don’t agree.
In Tennessee, spouses may be entitled to alimony, called spousal maintenance. There are four types of alimony:
- Rehabilitative alimony. This type of alimony helps a spouse earn a living by requiring that the more financially stable spouse provide the other spouse alimony, so that spouse can obtain an education or obtain job skills.
- Alimony in futuro(known as periodic alimony). This type of alimony is used when a spouse won’t be able to support herself – due to a disability, a lack of education, lack of skills, age or for other reasons.
- Transitional alimony. This is short-term alimony to give a spouse some financial support so she/he can adjust to life after the divorce.
- Alimonyin solido (also known as lump-sum alimony). This type of alimony is often used to cover a spouse’s legal expenses and needs after a divorce.
A skilled family lawyer will explain the factors that determine the type and amount of alimony – such as the length of the marriage, the ability of each spouse to earn a living, and the extent to which a spouse contributed to the ability of the other spouse to earn a living (including homemaker contributions).
In cases where the spouses don’t have real property, a business, nor retirement benefits, your attorney can often negotiate an agreement with your spouse’s lawyer. Mediation or collaborative divorce may also be used to reach an agreement.
When is agreed divorce not advantageous?
In many cases, agreeing to a divorce is not your best choice. If you or your spouse owns a business, a home, or retirement benefits, you need to resolve how those assets will be distributed. You have a right to an equitable share of those assets – even if they are not in your name.
It is important to understand that even if you do not qualify for an “agreed divorce,” you can often reach an agreement regarding all your divorce issues (property division, alimony, child custody, parenting plans, and child support). Your lawyer can help you file a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, or resolve issues on an amicable basis through:
- Collaborative divorce
Once you reach an agreement on all your divorce matters, you can request that the agreement be made part of the divorce decree.
At Shepherd & Long, P.C., our Maryville family lawyers help East Tennessee spouses reach agreements so they can file agreed divorces or reach resolutions about all their property, alimony, and child-related issues. We explain when agreed divorces are in your best interest and when the standard divorce process is the better option. To talk with a Maryville family lawyer, call us 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form to arrange an appointment.