Legal Separation in Tennessee
The state of Tennessee offers different options for couples deciding how to legally cope with a troubled marriage. One of those options is a legal separation.
Legal separation is much more than just one party deciding to move into an apartment until things can be worked out. Even though separation is considerably less drastic than a divorce, the legal issues that must be worked through are quite similar.
Tennessee Legal Separation Agreement
Financial support and property issues will have to be worked out. If you live in a nice house with a substantial income, the person moving out may expect a level of cash flow that will enable them to enjoy a comparable standard of living. They will want the separation agreement to ensure them the means to do that.
Alternatively, you may choose to stay living under the same roof. In this case, the separation process will need to address finances, and the spouses will essentially be treated as roommates. This path might be chosen by a couple when they feel it’s necessary to protect their financial interests in the event the marriage doesn’t get better; it will allow them the physical space to essentially live separate lives under the same roof.
Let’s consider a scenario where you and your spouse have three children together. You both enjoy a good relationship with your kids. However, you’re also worried that the increasing antagonism between you two will inevitably take its toll on the kids.
Choosing a legal separation in this scenario allows you to prepare the kids for the reality of what might happen. It also lowers tensions and gives you and your spouse a real shot at trying to save the marriage. It can be well worth it to work out everything regarding living arrangements, financial support, custody, and everything else that comes with a legal separation in these circumstances.
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A couple can choose a trial separation. In this case, you and your spouse can verbally agree on how to handle issues of finance, property, and child custody. This is not something that is officially monitored by the court system in Williamson County, so consult with a separation lawyer to see if this arrangement will get you and your spouse closer to a resolution.
The hope in most separations is that they will lead to a reunion of the marriage. Perhaps you believe you’re past that point and are wondering if there are grounds to simply file for divorce. I noted above that if both you and your spouse agree that there are “irreconcilable differences,'' you can pursue the dissolution of marriage.
Here are some of the other grounds for divorce that will also be recognized by the state of Tennessee:
- Desertion (for at least two years)
- Conviction of an “infamous” crime (typically understood as involving deceit, fraud, or corruption)
- Conviction of a crime that sends one to prison
- Cruel and inhumane treatment of one’s spouse
- The attempted murder of one’s spouse
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse
- Pregnancy (by another man) at the time of the marriage, without informing the husband
- Treating the spouse in an intolerable manner
- Turning the spouse away and refusing to provide for them despite having the means to do so
I've been a family lawyer for 30 years. I know that sometimes you must fight for a marriage and sometimes you must fight to get a fair settlement. Above all, I know that talking to a lawyer about separation was never what you intended on the day you got married. I know you need some way to begin again and I’m here to help you fight for that fresh start.
Call our Franklin legal separation lawyer today at (615) 239-1374 or send me an email here online and let me know what you’re going through.
If a couple that gets legally separated ends up divorcing later, they’ll have to do a lot of this same type of paperwork all over again. This may cause some to wonder, “Why bother with legal separation to begin with?” There are three notable reasons:
Religious reasons: Many people have deep religious convictions against divorce and will do everything possible to avoid it. But a marriage that is ending can take a deep toll on someone’s mental health and it can gravely impact the upbringing of children. For these reasons, a legal separation can be seen as a middle ground, respecting the institution of marriage and the individual needs of each person involved. There is no limitation on the amount of time a legal separation can be in effect, so the arrangement can continue “until death do us part.”
Financial reasons: The tax code offers advantages to married couples. It’s also possible that one person in the marriage may be receiving some type of government benefits. Let’s say one person is retired military and the relationship is still amicable enough that they don’t want the spouse to lose the good health and pension benefits that come with their service as a military spouse. A legal separation can preserve that connection, while allowing the couple to live separately.
Grounds for divorce: If you want to divorce in the state of Tennessee, you need grounds. The citing of irreconcilable differences–“no-fault divorce” –can only work if both parties agree. Let’s say only one person believes there are irreconcilable differences. A compromise solution might be a legal separation. After two years, the existence of a legal separation itself becomes grounds for divorce. This provides a legal path “out” for one person, while allowing the other a two-year window to see if their marriage can be saved.
One thing to be careful of in situations like this–especially if you’re the party that’s prepared to end the marriage–is that if you enter a new relationship after separation, it will be considered adultery. Adultery will be grounds for divorce, but it can also hurt your case when it comes to settling payment amounts for alimony.
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