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Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed  Jan. 3, 2023

In 2020, there were over 22,000 divorces in Tennessee according to the state’s Department of Health. This is higher than the national average, which means more Tennesseans are navigating these difficult issues which can include child custody, child support, alimony, and asset division.  

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about divorce and other family law concerns, and you owe it to yourself and your family to get the right information. If you’d like to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney about a legal matter, contact us today at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed. We’re located in Knoxville, Tennessee but we can serve clients in Farragut, Tennessee, or anywhere in the surrounding area, including Anderson County, Blount County, Union County, Maryville County, and Clinton County.  

Common Misconceptions About Divorce & Family Law 

If the other parent doesn’t pay child support, I can withhold visitation  

It may be tempting to punish your co-parent by withholding visitation rights because they haven’t been paying child support, but this should never be done. In the eyes of the court, there is no connection between child support and the child custody arrangement and failure to pay does not take away a parent’s right to see their child. If you do have an issue receiving payment, you need to take it up with the courts. 

It’s possible for one of the spouses to deny the divorce  

No one can force you to stay married to someone else, although they can draw out the process. If you’re served divorce papers by your spouse, you have 30 days to issue a response where you can either accept the terms they laid out or contest them. If you do not respond in this time period, the divorce will still proceed, and your spouse may be awarded the terms in their complaint. Most divorces can be completed within two to six months, but they can also last longer than a year. However, it is not possible for one partner to simply refuse to get divorced.  

The mother is always awarded primary custody of the children  

When a judge is deciding on child custody orders, they will consider both parents equally and never give preference to the mother simply due to her sex. The state recognizes that a child does best when they have regular and meaningful contact with both parents, and they will always try to consider the best interests of the child above all else. Unless there is a compelling reason why both parents can’t share custody, primary custody will be awarded to whichever parent will be able to provide the most stable and supportive home for their child. 

You have to get divorced in the state you got married in  

Although many people end up getting divorced in the same state they were married in, this is not required. If you were married in another state and wish to get a divorce in Tennessee, you have to have resided in the state for at least six months before filing.  

Alimony is a part of any divorce  

Alimony is never automatically awarded to either spouse during a divorce. A couple may decide between themselves that alimony will be paid, or a judge may deem it necessary. In almost all cases, alimony will only be awarded temporarily, as it’s meant to support the lower-earning spouse as they transition from being married to being single.  

Our assets will all be split 50/50  

It’s possible that you and your spouse will decide to split assets 50/50 or that a judge will decide this; however, this won’t always be the case. Tennessee is what’s known as an equitable distribution state, which means that a married couple’s assets will be split fairly but not necessarily equally.  

When a judge reviews your case, they will look at several factors to decide the most equitable way to split up your wealth. They will consider the following: 

  • How long the marriage lasted 

  • The age of each spouse

  • How much each spouse contributed to the assets (this includes non-monetary contributions like staying at home to raise children) 

  • What individual assets each partner had before the marriage 

  • What tax benefits or consequences each would incur 

How Legal Counsel Can Help  

While it’s not required that you hire an attorney to get divorced, the vast majority of people find they need at least some legal assistance during the process. An experienced attorney can educate you about the divorce process and alert you to common mistakes people make. They will help you assess your assets for equitable division, negotiate with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney, and fight for the best outcome for your whole family.  

Get the Answers to Your Family Law Questions  

If you’re in the Knoxville, Tennessee, or Farragut, Tennessee, area and would like to speak with a skilled family law attorney, reach out to our firm today to schedule a consultation. At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we have years of experience helping people get through the most difficult times of their lives and we can help you too. Give us a call today.