Your Process Options for Getting Divorced

There are many ways to get divorced in Tennessee.  This page gives you a summary of those options. Roughly speaking, there are five different approaches to consider.

Four of the five options below offer spouses good ways to avoid the high-costs,  loss of privacy and escalation of conflict that happens so often when spouses “fight out in court” using litigation attorneys.

Kitchen TableKitchen Table (Do it Yourself) :  If you do not have children, and you and your spouse agree on most of the difficult issues, like whether there should be any alimony paid, and how the property you have (as well as the debt!) will be divided up, then the “Kitchen Table” option may work for you.  There are forms you can get on-line, from many places, to fill out yourself and the file with the court.

But beware of the following:
1.) If you are not good at speaking-up for yourself, your spouse may be getting the better deal.
2.) Be sure your spouse is not  hiding income or assets.
3.) Each of you should have an attorney review the papers before signing them, if there is any significant money involved.

Divorce MediationMediation:  It is very common to use mediation to help resolve the many conflicts that arise in divorce. It can be effective, even if you and your spouse are not on good speaking terms. Most often it is used for simpler cases, financially.  And you need to remember that the mediator is neutral and cannot give legal advice to either you or your spouse. So if you need advice on what your rights are under the law, and whether you are getting a “good deal” in your divorce settlement then it is highly recommended you consult with your own attorney during and after the mediation. Also note, an attorney (not the mediator) is required to write up the final terms of the divorce.

See Divorce Mediation for more about how mediation works.

Collaborative DivorceCollaborative Divorce: This is a proven process that works very well, with a 96% success rate for settling cases,  even complex cases. Each client is represented by an attorney who is trained in the Collaborative Divorce process, and committed to negotiating a good settlement for their client out-of-court, working effectively with the other attorney. This is done via a series of meetings where the clients determine the shape and outcome of their own divorce with the help of their attorneys. Some settlement meetings include a Divorce Coach and/or Financial professional who are neutral and Collaboratively trained. They help the spouses work through difficult emotional and financial issues. The process is business-like and forward-looking, yet also sensitive to children’s needs and the parties’ conflicts.  See Collaborative Divorce for more about how this process works

Cooperative DivorceCooperative Divorce:  This is a “slimmed down” version of the Collaborative Divorce process, that works well in simpler cases, and is a good alternative to Mediation.  The two attorneys, each fully representing their own client’s interests, work cooperatively to find a settlement,  and sincerely seek to avoid litigation.  A mediator is usually not needed. Like Collaborative Divorce the two attorney’s effectively “mediate” the conflicts, while negotiating good solutions on behalf of their client.  The two attorney’s also focus on finding, and working towards areas of agreement and then producing the final settlement agreement,  rather than escalating conflicts.  This puts the focus on the future and the post-divorce needs of each client, in the same was as does Collaborative Divorce.
Litigation In CourtLitigation:  This is the traditional, but painful, way of getting divorced.  Each spouse hires an attorney that is skilled in using the legal power of  court system to fight for some advantages or delays, before ever attempting to find a resolution to the conflicts. It involves depositions, interrogatories, many document fillings and motions in court, plus pre-trial hearings. By going to court the spouses (with their attorneys) are asking a judge to decide the details of their personal lives. Meanwhile, exaggerated accusations are often made by each spouse against the other, which go into the public record, even before the trial.  This put huge stress on the family, with long lasting ill effects on the children. It also makes post-divorce life even more complicated and unpleasant, while increasing the chance of ending-up back in court again, a few months or a few years later.