Divorce: One of the harsh realities in life is that approximately 50% of first marriages end in divorce. No one envisions divorce or legal separation at the time of marriage; however, if divorce becomes inevitable, you need an experienced Bartlett divorce attorney familiar with the various laws governing the divorce process.


1. How quickly can I be divorced in Tennessee?

A: It depends on whether or not your case is contested or uncontested. However, Tennessee law requires a 60 day waiting period from the date of the filing of a Divorce Complaint for couples without minor children before they can be legally divorced.  There is a 90 day waiting period from the date of the filing of a Divorce Complaint for couples with minor children before they can be legally divorced.

2. If my spouse and I have agreed on everything regarding property and debt allocation and custody for our minor children, what must we do to obtain an uncontested divorce?

A: You and your spouse must execute two separate contracts. The first contract is called a Marital Dissolution Agreement, or MDA.  An MDA is a contract that serves to equitably divide you and your spouse’s marital property and debts.  If a party will be paying alimony to his or her spouse, the MDA also addresses that issue, in addition to addressing retirement accounts and pension plans.  The second contract is called a Permanent Parenting Plan, or PPP.  This contract governs which individual is the primary residential parent, or custodial parent, over the minor child/children. The PPP also sets forth the amount of child support that one party will pay to the other party and governs the parenting time, or visitation, for the non-custodial parent.

3. What will it cost me to obtain a divorce?

A: Every divorce is different and the costs vary depending on several factors, including whether or not there are minor children involved, real estate involved and the amount of the parties’ assets and most importantly if the divorce is contested or uncontested.  In the event that you and your spouse have worked out all of the details of the MDA and PPP on the front end, we can handle your divorce on a flat fee basis.  The charge for this type of divorce is $850.00 if there are no minor children involved.  If minor children are involved, the charge is $1,250.00.  Additionally, you will have to pay the court’s filing fees, which run $303.50 for divorces without minor children (in Shelby County) and $378.50 for divorces with minor children (in Shelby County).

In the event your divorce is contested and cannot be resolved on an uncontested basis from the outset, our office requires that you pay a retainer up front, that we will bill against on a monthly basis.  The attorneys in our office have different hourly rates based upon their experience in handling divorce cases.  The hourly rates run anywhere from $200.00 per hour to $300.00 per hour and the initial retainers range from $1,500.00 to $7,500.00 depending on the complexity of your case.

4. If my spouse and I are fighting over custody of our minor children, how will the Judge decide who is granted custody?

A: Custody determinations are based on “what is in the best interest of the minor child.”  Oftentimes, Judges will appoint a neutral attorney called a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate both the mother and father and make a recommendation to the Court on what parent should be the primary residential parent.

Douglass & Runger Divorce Attorneys
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Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law
2820 Summer Oaks Drive, Bartlett TN, 38134

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