Trusted Springfield Family Attorneys Ready To Assist You
Family law disputes arise in Springfield, Tennessee, just as often as they do anywhere else. These disputes differ greatly from disputes that arise in other areas of law such as contract law or trusts and estates law. Family problems implicate our most intimate relationships, and a badly handled dispute can be gut-wrenching. At Batson Nolan, our job as highly skilled Springfield family law lawyers is to see you through this difficult time as smoothly as possible while making sure that your interests are protected.
We’ve been doing this a long time – over 150 years, in fact. When Batson Nolan was founded, the Civil War was brewing. We have helped thousands of people involved in family law disputes put the pieces of their lives back together or negotiate a clean break. We pride ourselves on the compassionate and aggressive representation of our clients. We won’t stir up unnecessary trouble, but we won’t let anyone take advantage of you either.
First Things First
It is always good to start off by knowing some basics of Tennessee family law before beginning any negotiations with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. This knowledge can be important because divorce, and all of its tangential concerns, can be emotionally charged. And when we are extremely emotional, our judgment and expectations can get quite blurry. For instance, if you are particularly angry at your ex, you may be tempted to try to “take the children away” from him or her. If you are fueled by anger, you may exert a lot of effort in trying to hurt your ex. But all of that effort usually comes to naught because the court is not interested in helping you “get back at” your spouse. So here are some basics of Tennessee family law.
When handling child custody issues, the state of Tennessee puts the “best interests of the child” far above any other factor. According to Tennessee Code Title 36 Domestic Relations § 36-6-101(a)(2)(A):
“Unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child where the parents have agreed to joint custody or so agree in open court at a hearing for the purpose of determining the custody of the minor child.”
This section then goes on to delineate what extenuating circumstances might form the basis of an exception to this rule. However, in the absence of any of these exceptions, and as long as an agreement has been reached between the parents – there is a presumption that the best interest of the child is joint custody.
So when you begin negotiations with your spouse it is helpful if both parties understand that your child’s best interest of paramount importance. Of course, when two people going through divorce begin trying to work things out, emotions can get in the way. That is why having an attorney present almost always helps negotiations go more smoothly, so see some of our tips below when it comes time to begin deciding these issues.
Child support is not an entitlement that is granted to one parent or the other. Child support is actually a right that belongs to the child itself – and as such, neither parent can waive child support.
But what do the courts take into consideration when determining the proper amount for child support? To help with this task, Tennessee developed and distributed these child support guidelines and worksheet. Both the mother and father of the child must fill out this worksheet, and those numbers are used to determine how much each party should pay towards the support of the child.
Negotiation vs. Confrontation
Courts prefer to see family law disputes resolved amicably, and they will encourage the parties to reach agreement on issues such as property division and child custody. The court will not accept a negotiated agreement, however, if it violates a principle such as “the best interests of the child.” Moreover, in some cases, no agreement can be reached. At Batson Nolan, we can protect your interests whether your dispute is resolved amicably or confrontationally.
Alternatives to Litigation when Confrontations Occur
What if your spouse becomes confrontational? Or what if, despite your respective best efforts to negotiate amicably, you still are not able to come to terms with a critical aspect of your divorce? In these scenarios, while it may seem that your divorce is headed to court, the reality is that you could still have multiple options for negotiating a mutually agreeable outcome.
1. Attorney Led Negotiations
Oftentimes, divorcing spouses will be more receptive to hearing things from their respective attorneys rather than hearing them from one another. If you and your spouse are both represented by your own attorneys (which should always be the case), then your Springfield family attorneys should be able to help keep your negotiations focused on the pertinent issues rather than letting emotions get in the way. This won’t always be the case – attorneys can only do so much in terms of advising their clients of the realities imposed by Tennessee law – but, when disputes arise, experienced attorneys will often be able to reset the table and refocus a confrontational spouse’s intentions.
Complex issues will often lend themselves to being resolved through the process of mediation. Going to mediation affords divorcing spouses the benefit of a neutral third-party view on the issues involved in their divorce. Typically, a divorce mediator will be an attorney or former judge who has extensive experience dealing with complicated family law issues, and he or she will be able to offer unique and flexible recommendations that the spouses can use to arrive at mutually acceptable terms.
3. Collaborative Law Divorce
A third option is what is known as a collaborative law divorce. In a collaborative law divorce, the spouses specifically agree not to pursue litigation. By working with their respective attorneys and with other professionals (such as accountants and social workers) as necessary, divorcing spouses can cultivate the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and therefore avoid many contentious, emotionally-driven disputes.
Importantly, with regard to both mediation and collaborative law, it is not necessary to submit your entire divorce to the relevant process. In many cases, divorcing spouses will mediate a specific issue (such as property division or child custody) while resolving the majority of the issues through private, attorney-led negotiations. Likewise, divorcing spouses may be able to resolve a number of issues between themselves before deciding to transition to a collaborative law divorce.
“Katy Olita, Christy Bartee, and all their associates are top of the line.” – Alana Ward, March 27, 2018
Related Practice Areas
Our legal team practice in the following family law-related areas, among others:
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Mediation Services
- Post Divorce
- Military Divorce
- High Net Worth Divorces
- Alimony and Spousal Support
- Father’s Rights
- Orders of Protection
- Child Support Modification
- Premarital Planning
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How is property divided in a divorce?
Tennessee, like most states, is an “equitable division” state, not a “community property” state. Tennessee courts apply the following factors to determine the division of property incident to a divorce:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The relative ages of the spouses;
- The state of health of each spouse;
- The earning ability of each spouse;
- The overall financial situation of each spouse; and
- How a given item of property was acquired (gifted or acquired with earnings, for example).
What factors are used to determine child custody?
In almost all child custody decisions, the parents share time with their children, although one parent may be awarded more time than the other parent. Relevant factors include:
- The income of each parent;
- Each parent’s desire to care for the child;
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child;
- The child’s wishes (these wishes become more important the older the child is); and
- Any abuse or neglect inflicted by either parent.
Can a child support order be modified?
Yes, it can be if appropriate grounds exist. Suppose, for example, that you are responsible for sending child support payments to the other spouse and you lose your job. In this case, you might even request a temporary suspension of your obligations although you would have to repay these obligations after you found a new job.
If the new job pays less, you might petition the court for a permanent downward modification of your child support modifications. There is no guarantee that the court would accept your petition, however.
How does an abuse allegation affect a divorce?
It depends on whether the allegation is substantiated. False allegations of abuse, whether spouse abuse or child abuse, are used with distressing frequency as weapons in child custody disputes. If the allegations are substantiated, however, they can exert a devastating effect on the accused parent’s ability to spend time with his or her children – even if there is not enough evidence to convict the accused parent of a crime.
What factors are used to calculate spousal support (or alimony)?
In Tennessee, the courts consider a variety of factors in determining the nature, amount, and duration of alimony to be awarded (if any) in a divorce. These factors include:
- The spouses’ relative earning capacities and financial resources, obligations, and needs;
- The spouses’ relative education and training (or ability and opportunity to pursue education or training);
- The duration of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s age, physical health, and mental condition; and,
- Each spouse’s separate property (real and personal) to be retained following the divorce.
What unique considerations are involved in a high-net-worth divorce?
For high-net-worth individuals, getting divorced presents a number of unique property-related and financial considerations. From determining which of your assets qualify as your separate property to assessing the demands of Tennessee’s “equitable distribution” law, protecting your wealth and preserving your standard of living post-divorce requires careful consideration of numerous different factors.
What unique considerations are involved in a military divorce?
Military officers and servicemembers, armed services veterans, and military spouses must address the unique aspects of military life during the divorce process. Among other issues, some of the factors that will often take center stage in a military divorce include:
- Determining custody when one spouse will spend time deployed overseas;
- Distribution of military retirement pay; and,
- Spousal support for non-military housing.
What are my rights if my child’s mother denies that I am the father?
If your child’s mother is disputing that you are the father, there are clear legal procedures for establishing parentage in Tennessee. You have the legal right to prove your parentage. And once you do so, you have the legal right to seek custody on equal grounds with your child’s mother. While Tennessee law does not inherently favor either parent when it comes to establishing parental rights and responsibilities, as a father, you will need to be your own advocate in order to secure the rights that you desire.
Our attorneys understand what it means to face a family-related legal issue. We appreciate the unique dynamics and challenges involved, and we know that the process can be stressful. This is why we offer compassionate, one-on-one legal representation, and it is why we work tirelessly to help our clients achieve positive results as efficiently and amicably as possible. Regardless of your legal needs – and even if you aren’t quite sure what to ask – we are here for you, and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss what we can do to help.
If you have additional questions regarding these topics or any others, please get in touch with our helpful and knowledgeable Springfield family law attorneys who can explain things further.
Someone on Your Side – Springfield Family Lawyer
Family law disputes are tricky. Ordinarily, they are not best resolved through a strictly adversarial process, because doing so can be destructive to the real live people who are caught in the middle of it all. Emotions must be taken into account, but they cannot dominate at the expense or rationality and long-term thinking. It’s a fine line to walk.
If you are in need of a proven and professional Springfield family attorney, call us at (615) 382-4420, contact us online, or visit us at our Springfield office across the street from the courthouse. Our lawyers have been serving Springfield for years. Our former clients hail from Black Patch, Barren Plains, Lakeside Estates, Saddlebrook, and elsewhere in town. We look forward to hearing from you.