FAQ - Divorce
How long will a divorce take?
Every divorce is different, so it is difficult to say how long your divorce will take. However, there are specific waiting periods in Tennessee. These waiting periods apply even if the divorce is uncontested or the parties reach a settlement. If the parties have children, the parties must wait 90 days from the filing of the Complaint before being granted a divorce. If the parties do not have children, the waiting period is 60 days.
What if I'm already divorced but I want to change the Parenting Plan?
If you were divorced in Tennessee less than 30 days ago, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible, as there may be deadlines that affect your rights and ability to change the final decree. If you were divorced more than 30 days ago, you may need to file a Petition to Modify. The important question then becomes has there been a material change of circumstances since the divorce such that it is in the best interests of the children involved to change that decree. Many factors affect this determination, and you should consult an attorney to determine if your circumstances meet the threshold.
How does the Court determine custody of the children?
It is first important to note that in Tennessee, although the term "full custody" is still used in conversation, it is no longer a proper legal term. Instead, one parent will be named the "Primary Residential Parent" and the other will be the "Alternate Residential Parent." However, both parents usually retain the same basic rights to see and communicate with their children. To determine who will be the Primary Residential Parent in any given case, the Court examines many factors, including the following: the nature of the child's relationship with each parent, which parent has historically been the primary caregiver, continuity in the child's live and each parent's employment schedule. This list is by no means exhaustive and you should speak with your attorney about your individual case.
How does the Court determine child support?
Tennessee has very specific child support guidelines that must be followed, unless the judge finds there is a reason to deviate from those guidelines. These guidelines consider each parent's gross income, the number of days per year each parent spends with the child, health insurance premiums paid on the child's behalf, daycare costs, and whether either parent has other children he or she must support. A formula is then used to determine the child support obligation owed to either parent. Your attorney will be able to perform this calculation for you to give you an idea of the amount that may be granted in your case.
How does the Court determine alimony?
Alimony determinations in Tennessee are based mainly on the requesting party's need, and the other party's ability to pay. However, there are other factors that play into the decision, such as the length of the marriage, employment opportunities, fault in the divorce and each party's separate assets. Either the Husband or the Wife may be ordered to pay alimony.
How does the Court divide the assets?
Tennessee law calls for an "equitable" division of the assets and debts acquired during the marriage ("marital property"). Equitable does not always mean equal, and there are many factors the court will take into account when deciding how to divide the marital estate. However, there are some assets that are separate property and are not subject to division, including property owned before the marriage, property that was a gift, or inherited property. It is important to know that on some occasions separate property can become marital property. Consult with your attorney to determine whether your separate property has become marital property and to get a more accurate idea of how your property may be divided.
I have a friend who has already been through a divorce. Will my divorce turn out the same way?
No. It is essential to remember that every case is different. Just because your friend's situation seems similar to you, there may be other pieces of information you are not aware of that make your case vastly different. Your attorney can explain the differences between your case and that of your friend.
How much will it cost?
It is difficult to determine exactly how much your divorce will cost. This will depend on many things, including how long your divorce takes, the complexity of the issues, and the animosity that exists between you and your spouse. During your consultation, your lawyer will be able to give you a more accurate idea of the costs that may be entailed in your divorce. There are ways you can keep your costs under control. Your attorney should be willing to discuss these techniques with you.
FAQ - Bankruptcy
Does it make sense for me to file bankruptcy at this point?
Of course this depends on the situation of your case. If you decide to take advantage of my free initial consultation we will go over your financial situation in detail. Once I have all of the details I need I will be able to give you options on how to handle the situation that you find yourself in. If I think bankruptcy, whether it be Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, is in your best interest then that is what I will recommend. If bankruptcy is not right for your situation I will let you know that as well. Ultimately what path you take is up to you, I am here to give you the information you need to make that informed decision and to guide you through the complexities of the bankruptcy system.
What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is designed primarily to discharge, or eliminate, unsecured debt such as credit card and medical debt. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be able to retain all or most of your assets even in a Chapter 7 filing. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will generally take approximately 4-5 months from filing to discharge. Once you receive your discharge your dischargeable debt will be eliminated giving you a fresh financial start.
Chapter 13 is a repayment plan designed to pay off a portion of your unsecured debts over a set period of time, generally 3-5 years. This chapter is designed to allow clients to protect assets that they may have fallen behind on such as houses and vehicles. It is also the chapter you must file if you earn an income that is too high to allow for a Chapter 7 filing.
There are several factors that are used to determine the appropriate chapter to file. Deciding which chapter is right for your situation is an important part of what I discuss with my clients at the free initial consultation.
Can I retain my assets, such as my house, car and other personal belonging if I decide to file for bankruptcy?
The answer to this depends on the specific facts of your case. You are often able to retain all or most of your assets regardless of whether you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
When will creditors stop the harassment?
Upon filing for either chapter of bankruptcy the Bankruptcy Court immediately issues an automatic stay. This stay protects you from all collection efforts while your case is pending. Collection efforts that must cease include phone calls, letters, garnishments, foreclosures, lawsuits, and repossessions. You get the protection you need immediately upon filing.
Will I have to go to court if I decide to file a bankruptcy petition?
Yes, you must attend what is known as a 341 Meeting of Creditors. This typically held about 4 weeks after filing for a Chapter 7 and about 6 weeks after filing for a Chapter 13. While there will not be a judge present at the meeting, there will be a trustee whose job is to ensure everything on the petition is accurate and to administer the bankruptcy. Your creditors may also appear and ask any questions they may have.
How long will a Bankruptcy remain on my credit report?
A bankruptcy will typically appear on your credit report for 7-10 years.
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