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Attorney Randy Ratliff

Family Law

Experienced Divorce Attorney Serving the Nashville Area

Most people marry and have children with expectations of a bright future, but, unfortunately, things may not always work out that way. Divorce happens much more often than we would like to imagine, leaving former spouses to deal with issues such as child custody, child support, and visitation. Even couples without children must separate marital property and debts when their marriage ends. Nashville family law lawyer Randy Ratliff advocates for the legal rights of people who are facing the end of a marriage or its aftermath. To make sure that your interests are thoroughly protected, you should consult a divorce attorney before undergoing this process.

There are several fault-based grounds for divorce in Tennessee, including adultery, abandonment, a failure to provide support for a spouse, inappropriate marital conduct, and the habitual use of alcohol or drugs. In order to obtain a divorce on any of these grounds, the burden of proof is on the spouse seeking the divorce. Tennessee also allows for a no-fault divorce based on the ground of irreconcilable differences. Typically, a person must be a resident of Tennessee for at least six months in order for the court to have jurisdiction over a domestic relations matter, although there are some exceptions.

Property Division

In dividing the marital assets and liabilities acquired by a couple during their marriage, the court looks at the property brought into the marriage by each spouse and whether those items of property have become marital assets or have remained separate property. The court also will consider the length of the marriage, any contribution of either spouse to the education or earning power of the other spouse, the financial condition and earning capacity of each spouse, whether one of the spouses will continue to live in the marital home with the parties’ minor children, and other factors. Tennessee courts strive for an equitable distribution of marital property based on the aforementioned considerations. It is important to recognize, however, that “equitable” does not always work out to be “equal” in a given case. A family law attorney can help Nashville residents pursue the division of assets that is appropriate in their situation.

Child Custody and Child Support Considerations

If a divorcing couple has minor children, they must either agree on issues such as custody, visitation, and support, or the court will make those decisions for them. With regard to the question of child custody, the court’s task is to determine the best interest of the child. Contrary to some beliefs that there is a preference for the mother, there is no longer a “tender years” presumption in favor of the mother in Tennessee. Instead, Tennessee law now recognizes that a rule assuming a certain level of parental fitness based solely on gender is unfair.

Child support is set according to the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, which incorporate an income shares model. Factors such as the income ratio between the two parents, the amount of time that the child spends with each parent, medical expenses, insurance, and other factors are used to calculate the child support due. Once support is set by the court, it may only be modified if there is a significant change at some point in the future. Typically, this requires a difference of at least 15%. For instance, if the obligor parent gets a higher-paying job that raises their income from $3,000 per month to $5,000, this might be a basis for an upward modification in the amount of child support due.

Seek Guidance from a Family Law Lawyer in Nashville

Going through a divorce or dealing with post-divorce issues, such as a modification of child custody or support, may be stressful and challenging. At Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, we are here to offer knowledgeable legal advice in a compassionate yet practical manner. Nashville family law attorney Randy Ratliff has been serving residents of Davidson and Williamson Counties for many years, including people in Antioch, Hermitage, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Brentwood, and Cool Springs. He also can assist people who need an estate planning lawyer or advice on elder law matters. Call us at 615-656-8282 or contact us online to set up a consultation.