Knoxville Contested Divorce Lawyers
50+ Years of Combined Experience Resolving Tennessee Divorces
In some divorces, you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement. These are called contested divorces. Most people think that if they are agreeing to get divorced, that it is an uncontested divorce. This is not true. If you and your spouse disagree about any aspect of these four questions, then your divorce is contested.
- You may not agree why the marriage has ended – the “grounds” for divorce
- You may not agree about how property and debts should be divided.
- You may not agree on how to divide the time with your children and pay for raising them.
- You may not agree on whether one of you should contribute to the ongoing support of the other person.
What are the most common grounds for divorce? We most often litigate contested cases over grounds when one of the spouses has committed adultery, become addicted to drugs, or committed domestic violence. This is because you cannot really talk through the custody and property issues with someone who is cheating, has hit you, or is high on drugs.
What happens when there is no property settlement in a divorce? We have most often litigated contested cases over property issues when one spouse attempts to hide assets from the other spouse. To win those cases requires a thorough investigation of that spouse’s bank, credit card, and retirement accounts. Safety deposit boxes are hard to find. In one case we litigated several years ago, we even filed a Motion to search a piece of land to search for buried gold. These days, our investigation is more likely to require us to find alternative forms of currency, such as crypto currency or bit coin.
The second most common property disputes happen over things with sentimental value – the attachment you might have to keeping the house you raised your children in, or a dispute over who is going to get the family pet
We also pay special attention to high asset cases. We analyze transactions between complicated financial holdings, such as family businesses, trust accounts, and accounts with multiple authorized signatories. We may need to retain the services of a forensic accountant, especially if the parties cannot work together to assess their financial circumstances through collaborative law.
What if we can’t agree on custody? Without a doubt, most of our contested divorce cases involve the care, custody and support of the parties’ minor children. Preparing these cases requires a thorough investigation into nearly every aspect of your children’s lives – from issuing subpoenas for medical, financial and school records, to interviewing teachers, mental health providers, and coaches, to documenting the conditions of each parent’s home, to running background checks on people associated with each parent, to coordinating employment schedules and checking the records of various daycares and the rankings of various schools. It only gets more complex when parents start dating again, or move to another state, or take another job. Child custody cases are the most strenuous and complex cases we try.
What about child support? But even after we resolve a custody case, our work is not done. We still must calculate child support, which requires us to determine the cost of daycare and make sure it’s reasonable, calculate the child’s portion of health insurance payments by one parent or the other, determine whether the child has any special needs or unusual educational expenses, determine whether either parent has any obligation to support other children, either in their current home or from a prior relationship. We also check to see if the child is eligible for public benefits that can be used to satisfy all or part of a parent’s child support obligation.
Will I get alimony? And finally, we resolve whether either spouse owes alimony. Nothing fuels more litigation than the rage of the primary breadwinner during a long-term marriage than to be told they must continue partially supporting the person they are divorcing. But the reality is that if one spouse has a documented financial need, and the other spouse has a documented ability to help meet that need, alimony is going to be a factor.
How much does a contested divorce cost? It's a lot. Contested divorces typically cost our clients tens of thousands of dollars of attorney fees. Knowing when to fight and when not to fight is critical. In some cases, the stress and expense of a trial may be worth it to have your position vindicated. Sometimes, you have no choice because your spouse simply refuses to be reasonable. Sometimes, your spouse has mental health issues that make negotiation impossible.
Should I always settle my divorce? It depends. This is your new life we are building, and we follow your lead. We always give our clients the option to settle a case, but no, we do not always settle every divorce. We try the divorces that cannot be settled, thoughtfully and vigorously. Being your advisor and also your advocate is what we do.
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Over 50 Years of Experience in Family Law