Trusted Clarksville Family Lawyers Ready To Serve You
Attorneys in this area:
J. Matthew Miller | Philip M. Mize | Christina M. Bartee
Family Law in Tennessee
Batson Nolan PLC has extensive experience representing clients in Tennessee and Kentucky. While our primary focus is on serving the communities of Clarksville, Fort Campbell, Ashland City, Dickson, Dover, and Erin, we also regularly practice in Nashville and Sumner County. Whether you are facing a divorce (military or not), child support issue, adoption or a child custody case, the firm understands the sensitive nature of such legal issues, and we are committed to providing both compassionate and aggressive representation that our clients deserve.
I consulted with the family law attorneys at Batson Nolan to help me create a parenting plan as part of my divorce. The entire process was a very stressful time for me, but my attorney took the time to explain every step along the way and I walked away with a fair plan. – Brian G.
How Can We Help You?
We represent spouses, partners, single parents, and other individuals in all family-related legal matters in Tennessee. Our family law attorneys have decades of combined experience, and they use this experience to help clients achieve positive outcomes as efficiently and amicably as possible. We know that dealing with these types of issues can be stressful, and we know that they often lead to emotionally-difficult confrontations. But, we also know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we can help you get there while protecting you and your loved ones every step along the way.
While uncontested divorces in Tennessee can take 2-3 months (at a minimum) to complete, the contested ones can last much longer. The length of is based on the complexity of the issues, the amicability of the couple, and the attitude of each attorney.
Child Custody and Visitation
At Batson Nolan PLC, we understand the importance of protecting your child’s well-being, both today and in the future. In Tennessee, the courts evaluate custody arrangements by examining whether the arrangement proposed is in the best interests of the child or children. At Batson Nolan PLC, our Clarksville family law attorneys craft our cases around this best interest analysis and statutory factors, all while we ensure that your families’ individual situation and your child’s individual needs are taken into account.
Mediation is a non-adversarial dispute resolution process that takes place away from the courtroom. You, your spouse and your Clarksville family law attorneys will meet to negotiate the terms of your divorce, parenting plan or family law issues in conversations guided by an experienced mediator.
Clients often think that once the divorce papers are signed, things will be set in stone for the future. However, the one constant in life is changed. As changes happen, families often find themselves in need of a different arrangement with regard to the matters settled in their MDA (Marital Dissolution Agreement). Although adjustments are common, sometimes they can be complex. Sometimes, modification merely requires language changes or clarification, but sometimes they are much more challenging.
As a result of our close proximity to Fort Campbell, the Clarksville family lawyers of Batson Nolan PLC are very knowledgeable and experienced in handling divorces involving military personnel and their spouses. Although the procedures of a military divorce are very similar to the civilian ones, there are several additional factors that affect the outcome. For instance, if the active-duty spouse is stationed in a remote area or overseas, the lawsuit is likely to be delayed until the active duty spouse is no longer unavailable per his/her military service.
High Net Worth Divorces
Divorcing is both complicated and emotionally challenging for either spouse. It can also be financially devastating to either one of the parties, particularly the breadwinner of the relationship. The more assets you have, the more you stand to lose. Have questions about this matter or others? Get in touch with our trusted and proven Clarksville family lawyers about your situation.
Alimony and Spousal Support
In Tennessee, alimony is the legal obligation of one spouse to financially support the other spouse. The trial court is granted broad discretion in determining whether alimony or spousal support is required, and if so, the trial court has broad discretion in determining the nature or type of alimony, the amount of alimony, and the duration or term of support payments.
Research demonstrates that a father’s nurturing presence in a child’s life has a major impact on the child’s development, both cognitive, socially and emotionally. It is universally accepted among experts that children who have a meaningful relationship with their father statistically have a greater chance of achieving success and happiness as adults. Let a dedicated Clarksville family law firm help you.
Orders of Protection
In Tennessee, an Order of Protection (OP) provides victims of certain types of abuse with a shield from their abusers that exists outside the context of the criminal courts and criminal law. Though OP’s are effective, they can be tricky to obtain. Accordingly, this article will examine and provide a summary analysis of the Tennessee Protection Orders.
Other Areas of Expertise That Our Clarksville Family Law Firm Offer:
- Child Support Modification
- Premarital Planning
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is child custody determined in Tennessee?
The primary principle of child custody decisions is not parental rights, but “the best interests of the child.” Parental rights are taken into account, of course, but they are considered secondary to the best interests of the child. Some of the factors that a Tennessee family court might use to make a custody decision include:
- The relative incomes of the two parents;
- Each parent’s desire to raise the child, based not only on each parent’s stated preference but also on each parent’s history of voluntary involvement with the child’s life;
- Any history of abuse or neglect by either spouse;
- The child’s stated preference; and
- Each parent’s actual ability to care for the child.
How much emphasis does a family court place on the child’s preference when considering a custody decision?
Children under 12 years old are not even asked their preference. Once the child turns 12, however, his or her preferences become progressively important every year thereafter. A family court, however, is always empowered to ignore the child’s preference if the child’s best interests would be better served by doing so.
How is property division determined?
Property division can be a complex process if the divorcing couple owns significant assets. The old adage that “it all gets split 50/50” is a gross oversimplification. Tennessee is an “equitable distribution” state, not a “community property” state. And as such, the following factors (among others) are relevant:
- How long the couple has been married
- The age of each spouse
- Whether either spouse is experiencing health problems
- The personal finances of each spouse, including individual earning power
- How the property in question was originally obtained (purchased with earnings or investment gains, inherited or gifted, for example)
- Whether either spouse committed waste of marital assets (by supporting a mistress, for example)
How does divorce mediation work?
A Tennessee family court is likely to require a divorcing couple to attend divorce mediation. In mediation, a trained third-party mediator is brought in to help the divorcing spouses reach an agreement on matters such as child custody. The mediator cannot impose a solution on the couple, only encourage them to reach an agreement. Mediation is generally a far less stressful alternative to litigation in court.
Does Tennessee enforce prenuptial agreements?
Yes, it does. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-501 specifically provides for the enforcement of prenuptial agreements. Many family law courts, however, are inherently suspicious of them and may take a closer look at a prenuptial agreement than they would another type of agreement – looking for a reason to invalidate it. Provisions relating to child custody or child support will not be enforced.
What is the residency requirement for filing a divorce in Tennessee?
The residency requirement refers to the amount of time that a spouse has to live in the state before the court has jurisdiction to grant a divorce. In Tennessee, the residency requirement is six months before filing the complaint. You must be able to prove that you or your spouse have resided in Tennessee for at least six months.
Is there a waiting period for a divorce in Tennessee?
No, Tennessee does not have a waiting period. As long as you can meet the residency requirement, you do not have to wait any longer to file for divorce. You are also not required to be separated from your spouse for a certain amount of time before filing for divorce.
What are the legal grounds for getting a divorce in Tennessee?
If you and your spouse agree to the divorce, you can file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences,” meaning that you and your spouse have differences that you cannot fix and wish to end your marital relationship. This is considered “no-fault” grounds.
Tennessee also recognizes “fault-based” grounds such as adultery, a felony conviction, drug abuse or habitual drunkenness, impotency, sterility, and abandonment. A family law firm in Tennessee can discuss all of the possible grounds for divorce with you to determine which one is most appropriate.
What is the difference between filing on no-fault grounds and fault-based grounds?
If you and your spouse agree to the divorce, you can assert no-fault grounds. If you allege fault-based grounds, you will have to prove that your spouse did something to you that establishes the fault-based grounds, such as cheated on you or acted as a habitual drunk. This can be more difficult than many people realize and adds an extra step in the divorce process.
How do I start the process of divorce?
To start the divorce process, you must file a divorce complaint with the family court in the county where you or your spouse lives. The complaint sets out certain information, such as your name and your spouse’s name, that you or your spouse have met the residency requirement, the grounds for divorce, and the legal relief you are seeking (to divide property a certain way or custody of your children, for example). You also must file a summons that states the defendant’s rights and the deadline for filing a response to the complaint. Our Clarksville family law lawyers can help you with this process that requires that you follow many technical rules.
How do I serve divorce papers on my spouse?
Tennessee law requires that divorce papers, including your divorce complaint and summons, be served on your spouse. Often, these documents are served by a sheriff’s deputy or private process server you pay. However, you can serve your spouse via certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested. If you do not know where your spouse lives and cannot find out by diligent inquiry, you may be able to serve him or her via “publication.” Your lawyer can discuss these options with you.
If your spouse agrees to the service, he or she can waive the requirement to be served by filling out a form. You must file this form with the court so it knows that your spouse waived this requirement.
What can I do if my ex is not following the divorce or custody order?
If your ex does not follow the instructions included in a court order, you can take legal action to enforce the order. You may file a Petition for Contempt, which requires your spouse to show up at a hearing and explain why the court should not punish him or her for violating the court order. Some reasons to file for contempt include if the spouse fails to pay support, does not allow court-ordered visitation, or fails to give the spouse property that he or she was ordered to. The court can take a variety of actions to get the spouse to do what he or she was ordered to do, like:
- Issue a garnishment from the spouse’s wages
- Order the person to sign the paperwork, such as turning over an interest in an IRA
- Order the sheriff to take possession of money in a bank account
- Jail the person
We (the child’s parents) have never been married. We don’t need a custody agreement, do we?
Many people who parent a child out of wedlock want to believe that something “official” like a court-ordered child custody arrangement is not necessary. Particularly if the parents are getting along at the time of the child’s birth, they may not think that they need to pursue a formal arrangement. And while that may work for some people, it backfires more often than not.
Even if you are getting along today, you may not be in a year, two years, or 10 years. Things change all the time, as do emotions – and leaving your child’s future to chance is almost never a good idea. It is far better to take care of business right from the start. Establish parentage or paternity, and then go the formal route of having child support and custody arrangements written up in either a mediated agreement that is enforceable by the courts or in a court order.
First, child support is the right of the child, not the parents – so establishing that early is important. It may need to be modified as financial circumstances change over the years, but get it established from the start to nip any disagreements in the bud. And as far as custody, it is far better to iron that out while everyone is in agreement than to wait until things get ugly. You can always petition for modification later, but only very significant changes in circumstances can warrant such a change. Get help from a trusted Clarksville family law attorney at Batson Nolan PLC.
What are the factors that courts consider when determining alimony in Tennessee?
Alimony is determined by looking at a number of factors during a Tennessee divorce, including, but not limited to:
- Each spouse’s ability to earn money
- Each spouse’s financial obligations and financial needs
- Additional sources of income for each spouse (e.g., pension, retirement funds, trust funds, inheritances, etc.)
- The education and/or training level of each spouse
- How much time and money it would take for either spouse to become self-sufficient; either by going back to school, completing vocational training, or honing skills necessary for a new career
- The length of the marriage
- The age of each spouse
- The physical health of each spouse
- The mental health of each spouse
- Which spouse is the primary residential parent of the children, especially if those children have special needs – the courts consider how this will affect that spouse’s ability to work outside of the home
- The property division reached during the divorce
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage, and how each spouse supported the other to contribute to the family lifestyle and/or increase one another’s earning capacity
- The assets that each spouse brought into the marriage
- Marital fault, if applicable
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant
This Is Our Promise to You
We can’t promise that your divorce or other family-related legal issues will turn out exactly how you want it to. No law firm can. But, what we can promise you is this: As your attorneys, we will use our knowledge and experience to help you, and we will try as hard as we can to achieve the best possible outcome – whatever that means in your particular case. Our trusted Clarksville family law attorneys will provide you with compassionate and personalized legal advice based upon your unique circumstances, and we will work diligently to ensure that you are satisfied with the final outcome of your family law matter.
Here is what you can expect when you choose the family law attorneys at Batson Nolan PLC:
- Thoughtful Legal Advice and Representation – Our family lawyers will give you thoughtful advice based upon the practicalities of your present circumstances and your long-term interests and needs.
- Caring Attention from Our Attorneys and Staff – We will represent you with care and compassion, and we will treat you how we would want to be treated ourselves if we were seeking help with a sensitive legal matter.
- Accessibility and Prompt Responsiveness – Our attorneys and staff will answer your calls when they are available to do so. And if you leave us a voicemail or send us a message, we will respond as soon as possible.
- Unwavering Commitment to Your Best Interests – We will pursue your legal matter with an unwavering commitment to protecting your best interests and, if applicable, those of your children or other loved ones.
- Finality and Peace of Mind – If you allow us to see your legal matter through to the end, we will help you achieve a final resolution that you understand, that you value, and that provides you with thorough peace of mind.
Take the First Step Today
Family law disputes can become so stressful that it is difficult to maintain objectivity in the midst of such turmoil. It is for this reason, more than any other, that your choice of a family law firm is likely to be the most important decision you make in the entire case. At Batson Nolan PLC, we have been serving clients for over 150 years, and there is a reason why we have lasted so long. Our law firm understands both the technical and the human side of family law disputes, and we simply will not rest until justice is done.
Get Help Now – Call Us Today
To schedule an initial appointment, call a committed Clarksville family law firm at (931) 647-1501 or contact us online.
We proudly serve clients in Clarksville and the communities of Fort Campbell, Ashland City, Dickson, Dover, and Erin, we also regularly practice in Nashville and Sumner County.
Batson & Nolan PLC is a full-service law firm. We represent a variety of legal matters, including:
- Personal Injury
- Child Custody
- Military Divorce
- Estate Planning, Probate, & Wills
- Real Estate
- Business/Corporate Law
- Limited Liability Partnership
- Employment Law
- Workers’ Compensation
- Administrative Law and Professional Licensure