Ending Your Marriage? A contested divorce isn’t your only option.

Do you or your spouse want out of your marriage? A heated and long drawn out divorce isn’t your only option! Many people are under the impression that when a couple decides to dissolve a marriage, it is because one or both spouses are to blame and an expensive long drawn out contested divorce is inherent. However, a contested divorce isn't the only way to end a marriage. There are many other options for ending your marriage that have the potential to save you an immense amount of time, money, and stress. Below are a list and brief description of the various ways to end a marriage.

  1. Annulment. An annulment invalidates the marriage from the beginning. This option is only available in cases where the marriage is void or voidable, and the marriage is deemed voidable if one of the parties entered into the marriage as a result of fraud, coercion or duress attributable to the other spouse.

  2. Separation. A separation is living apart from your spouse while still being legally married. Even though a couple is still married within this type of clause, separation can be very similar to the divorce process. A legal separation is a serious change in the nature of the marriage. A legal separation requires deciding issues such as custody, alimony, child support, and visitation. All of the family debts and assets are also divided and allocated. Some couples choose separation instead of divorce because of their religious beliefs, it is financially advantageous to separate rather than divorce, and because the two might still love each other but be unable to live together. Each state deals with legal separation differently. Some states recognize it, and others do not, and some states require it before finalizing a divorce. In Tennessee, you are not required to be separated prior to obtaining a divorce from your spouse. Also, in order to be legally separated in Tennessee, you must have a final decree of legal separation.

  3. Divorce. A divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage. A divorces do not have to be expensive, time consuming, and stressful. Just like there are different option to ending your marriage, there are also different options to obtaining a divorce. Some of the different types of divorces are as follows:

  1. ​​​No-Fault Divorce - A no-fault divorce occurs when neither spouse is cited as a direct fault for the cause of the divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the ground for the divorce is “irreconcilable differences”.

  2. At-Fault Divorce - An at fault divorce occurs when one or both spouses are cited to be the cause of the divorce. An at-fault divorce requires one (or both) parties to prove that the other party is responsible for the divorce. Some fault-based grounds for divorce in Tennessee include: Adultery, Abandonment, Mental illness or incompetency, Bigamy, conviction of an infamous crime, Alcohol or drug abuse, Cruelty or abuse, Impotence, and inappropriate marital conduct.

  3. Uncontested Divorce – An uncontested divorce occurs when the parties reach an out of court agreement on all the issues relating to the divorce, such as spousal support distribution of assets, distribution of debts, child custody, child visitation, and child support. In an uncontested divorce, a Marital Dissolution Agreement and Permanent Parenting Plan(if the parties have minor children together) are drafted and signed by both spouses. The Martial Dissolution Agreement and Permanent Parenting Plan are presented to the court for the judge to enter a final decree.

  4. Contested Divorce – A contested divorce occurs when the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding all issues in relation to the divorce. This usually occurs when one party does not agree to get divorced, believing that the marriage can be salvaged, or the parties cannot agree on child custody, child support, spousal support, property division or other issues. Contested divorces can be resolved through mediation or a contested trial. A contested divorce usually takes much longer than an uncontested divorce. A contested divorce that is resolved by mediation will typically be much less expensive than a contested divorce that is resolved by a contested trial. During mediation the parties decide whether the divorce will proceed and what the terms of the divorce will be. During a contested divorce trial, a judge decides whether the divorce goes through and what the terms of the divorce will be. The Court typically requires parties to attend mediation to try to reach an agreement prior to hearing a contested divorce trial.

  5. Mediated Divorce – A mediated divorce occurs when both parties agree to meet with a divorce mediator prior to the filing of a Complaint for Divorce with the Court. A Divorce mediator is a neutral third party. The purpose of the divorce mediator is to facilitate the parties discussing issues and coming to mutually agreeable solutions for a divorce settlement. Mediation is genera