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  • Writer's pictureJay Ingrum

Deciphering Divorce: A Guide to the Top 10 Conflict Areas

Legal Lens: Viewing Law Through Ingrum Expertise


Divorce - Ingrum law - 2 rings

10. Fault: Most parties to a divorce spend too much time focused on whose fault it is for the breakup of the marriage. Most judges will tell you that there is more than enough fault to go around. Judges would rather the parties and their respective attorneys just cut to the chase and address the real issues.


9. Alimony/Spousal Support: Tennessee courts do not generally favor alimony, and when it is ordered it is generally on a temporary basis. It is based on a number of factors, but the main factors are need and ability to pay.


8. Retirement Accounts: If you and your spouse have retirement accounts that were accumulated during the marriage, then they are usually deemed to be marital property. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) will usually have to be prepared so that some money can be rolled over from one spouse’s retirement account into the other spouse’s retirement account to equalize the money.


7. Businesses: If the parties to a marriage own a business that is considered marital property, then that business may need to be valued via a business evaluation by a qualified expert. Then, said business may be sold and the proceeds split evenly or one party may choose to buy out the other party of their marital interest.


6. Personal Property and Debts, Marital and Separate in Nature: Any and all personal property acquired during the marriage is considered marital unless it is deemed separate property. Separate property is property owned prior to the marriage, property acquired by inheritance, property that is personal to a spouse such as clothing, jewelry, sports equipment or personal memorabilia, or property acquired as a gift from a third party or from the other spouse. Any and all debt incurred during the marriage is considered marital debt, unless it is debt that was incurred in secret that only benefited one spouse. An example might be, if one spouse had a secret credit card that they were using for off shore gambling or to take their paramour out for dinner and drinks. The innocent spouse would not owe for such separate debts.


5. Real Property: Real property is land, a home, or business property. It is marital if it was acquired during the marriage. It is separate if it was owned prior to the marriage and never put in the other spouse’s name. Real property that is marital is usually sold, the debt is paid, and the equity is split 50/50 or one spouse refinances the real property in their sole name and buys out the other spouse. The spouse who was bought out the other spouse signs a quitclaim deed which deeds their marital interest over to the other spouse.


4. Rights of Parents: T.C.A. § 36-6-101 of Tennessee law, entitles both parents to certain rights. They include but are not limited to the following: right to unimpeded phone conversations with the child at least twice per week at reasonable times for a reasonable duration, right to send mail to the child, right to notice of hospitalization/illness/injury or death of child, right to educational records of the child, right to medical records of the child, right to be free of derogatory remarks in the presence of the child, right to notice of extracurricular activities of the child, right to itinerary and phone number when other parent takes child out of state for 48 hours, and right to participate in child’s education.


3. Child Support: Child support affects both parents. One parent receives child support and the other parent pays it. Child support is not negotiable. Child support in Tennessee is based on the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines take into account a number of factors including the following: number of days with each parent, gross monthly income for each parent, credits for any in-home children or not-in-home-children, the children’s portion of health insurance premium and who pays it, recurring uninsured medical expenses, and work-related childcare and who pays it. The formula and child support calculation sounds complicated, but if you plug in the correct numbers, then the child support calculator will spit out the correct presumptive child support amount.


2. Visitation: This is an extremely important issue to both parents. To the alternative residential parent (ARP), being able to see their child(ren) on a regular basis is of utmost importance. To the primary residential parent (PRP), the amount of visitation that the other parent receives will affect the amount of child support they receive from the other parent.


1.Child Custody: This is the single most important issue in most divorces. After all, you cannot cut the child in half. One parent will be named the primary residential parent (PRP) and the other parent will be named the alternative residential parent (ARP), unless the partners agree to be joint primary residential parents. Also, one parent will receive child support payments, and the other parent will pay child support payments. There are a number of custody factors that the court must consider, but overall the best interest of the minor child is the overriding factor.

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