Family Law/Divorce/Child Support/Parenting

We realize that issues concerning family law are incredibly difficult. Our goal is to allow you to concentrate on the wellbeing of your family during this time by knowing that we are aggressively pursuing and protecting your legal interests.

If at all possible, couples should attempt marital counseling before consulting an attorney, particularly if there are minor children involved. Even after divorce, couples will continue to have contact with each other if there are minor children. If counseling cannot resolve your differences, then an attorney can advise you concerning your legal rights.

Uncontested—An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on all issues, including the division of real and personal property, alimony, division of retirement and pension accounts, parenting, etc. If both parties agree on all issues, a divorce may be obtained by citing irreconcilable differences and entering into a Martial Dissolution Agreement (and Permanent Parenting Plan if minor children are involved). In Tennessee, a divorce may be obtained upon irreconcilable differences sixty (60) days after the filing of a Complaint for Divorce if there are no minor children, and ninety (90) days if there are minor children. A divorce based upon irreconcilable differences is obtained without showing fault.

Contested—A contested divorce occurs when the parties cannot reach an agreement. If the parties cannot agree on all issues, one or both parties must allege a fault ground in order to obtain a divorce. Parties to a contested divorce must attend mediation for both financial and parenting issues (if applicable) before the case can be heard by a judge. If there are minor children involved, the parties must also attend a four (4) hour parenting seminar. The courts no longer award "custody" to a party but require "shared parenting”, usually by designating a Primary Residential Parent (PRP) and an Alternate Residential Parent (ARP). Tennessee has also recently adopted new guidelines for the payment of child support. The new system is based on an “income shares guidelines” which calculates the amount of child support based on the income of both parties, days each party parents the child or children, etc.

If divorce is unavoidable, you should contact an attorney to advise you about your rights, including parenting time if there are minor children, child support, the division of retirement benefits, alimony, and the division of other real and personal property.

Modification of Child Support and Parenting Plans

Child Support—If your divorce was final prior to January 18, 2005 or your last court order regarding parenting was established or modified prior to January 18, 2005, you could be eligible for a modification of your current child support obligation. Even if your divorce or last parenting plan was effective after the above date, you could also be eligible for a modification of your child support obligation. The standard for determining whether a child support modification is necessary is whether a “significant variance” exists. It is important to remember that you cannot unilaterally reduce, increase, or modify your existing child support obligation in any way without approval of the court. You should contact an attorney to assist you in determining whether a significant variance has occurred in your case and to advise you about your rights in paying or receiving child support.
Parenting Plans—The standard for modifying a court’s prior order regarding custody or parenting schedules is whether a material change of circumstance affecting the child’s best interest has occurred. A material change can include significant changes in the needs of the child or children, significant changes in the parent’s living or working condition, failure to adhere to the parenting plan, or other circumstances making a change in the residential parenting time in the best interest of the child or children. If you are experiencing difficulties with your parenting time, or if you feel that it is in the best interest of your child or children to modify your existing parenting schedule, you should contact an attorney immediately to advise you of your legal rights. 

Prenuptial/Antenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial/Antenuptial Agreement—If you are contemplating marriage and feel that you need to be protected by a prenuptial agreement, it is important to obtain a knowledgeable attorney who can ensure that you and your future spouse enter into a valid agreement that will be upheld in court. A prenuptial agreement should outline very specifically what assets and debts each party has, as well as the rights and responsibilities of each party if the marriage is later dissolved. Because the issues of such an agreement are complex and frequently litigated, it is important that you involve an attorney from the beginning of this type of agreement.
Postnuptial Agreement—If you are already married, but feel that an agreement with your spouse is necessary to specify the division of assets and liabilities, you and your spouse may consider entering into a postnuptial agreement. These agreements are also common when one party’s financial circumstances have changed through inheritance, promotion, stock options, etc, or when couples desire to amend their existing prenuptial agreement. When properly executed, a postnuptial agreement can relive stress on a marriage and create a harmonious resolution to financial issues.

Certifications of Specialization are available to Tennessee lawyers in all areas of practice relating to or included in the areas of Civil Trial, Criminal Trial, Business Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Creditor's Rights, Medical Malpractice, Legal Malpractice, Accounting Malpractice, Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Family Law. Listing of related or included practice areas herein does not constitute or imply a representation of certification of specialization. This statement is required by the Supreme Court of Tennessee.


Grace E. Daniell, PC
620 Lindsay Street, Suite 210, Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 266-3179 • Fax:  (423) 634-8991

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