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Divorce and business – the ins and outs

CarleeMcCullough-160I, John Doe, take you Jane Marie, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

For those in business, divorce can be devastating, especially when we have to be at the top of our game daily. It can affect job performance and the delivery of goods and services.

When we are in love, birds seem to sing louder and even when it is raining it seems like the sun is shining bright. Our mates can do no wrong and we are their biggest cheerleaders. We overlook their flaws and make excuses for their shortcomings.

Sometimes, however, the sunlight dims and those shortcomings don't appear short at all. By the end of the relationship, those vows that were taken have been so forgotten that one or both parties have trampled all over them.

While marriage is considered a civil contract under the law, divorce is the organized breaking of that civil contract. In Tennessee, divorce historically has been higher than the national average. This statistic may be associated with the poor financial conditions of residents, resulting in financial problems in the relationship.

This week we will be discussing various items related to divorce.

Top reasons for divorce

Although people seek a divorce for a multitude of reasons, overall the top five reasons include:

1) Communication problems;

2) Infidelity or betrayal;

3) Financial problems;

4) Psychological, emotional, and physical abuse; and

5) Loss of interest.

Beware: divorce ahead

Many times the party receiving divorce papers will say, "I had no idea." Yet, there were signs. Indications of an impending divorce may include:

1) Dreaming of life without the spouse;

2) The bad in the marriage outweighs the good;

3) Lack of communication;

4) Defense mechanisms have begun, such as becoming overly defensive and dismissive;

5) A spouse feels like he or she is the only one trying to solve problems;

6) The couple rarely has sex, if at all.

Tennessee timeframe

In Tennessee, the minimum statutory waiting period for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences is 60 days after filing, if there are no unmarried minor children. If the couple has unmarried minor children, the wait is 90 days after filing. However, contested divorces generally take from 6 months to 2 years to complete because of motions, discovery, and trial.

The Tennessee tab

Divorce costs vary because each case is unique. However, every divorce will have two primary expenses: court costs and legal fees. The court cost for a divorce with minor children is $378.50. The court cost for a divorce with no minor children is $303.50. These fees do not include service of process on the other party, publication or any other court costs outside of filing.

The fee attributable to the attorney varies widely based on the lawyer and the complexity of the case. Some cases are straight forward, with few assets to divide and no children. Other cases involve a more complex set of issues such as custody, child support, distribution of assets and alimony.

For uncontested matters, some attorneys will charge a flat rate. But for contested cases, most attorneys will charge an hourly rate, with a retainer paid up front.

Legal grounds

Based on Tennessee Code-Title 36, Sections 36-4-101, the following are causes of divorce that are recognized by the courts:

1) Irreconcilable differences between the parties;

2) A two-year period of separation, without cohabitation, if there are no minor children involved;

3) Impotence;

4) Bigamy;

5) Adultery;

6) Willful desertion for one whole year;

7) Conviction of an infamous crime, or sentenced to confinement in a penitentiary for a felony;

8) Cruel or inhuman treatment that makes cohabitation unsafe.

9) Attempting to take the life of the other;

10) Refusal to move to this state, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two years;

11) The woman was pregnant at the time of the marriage, by another person, without the knowledge of the husband;

12) Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse after the marriage;

13) Indignities that render the spouse's position intolerable, and force the spouse to withdraw; or

14) Abandonment and refusal to provide for the spouse while having the ability to do so.

NEXT WEEK: Child support and custody issues in divorce.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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