Nashville View

Converting Separation Into Divorce

Family Law Attorneys Helping Nashville Residents Dissolve a Marriage

In Tennessee, the process of obtaining a legal separation instead of, or when considering, a divorce is almost identical to the formal divorce process. As a result, converting separation into divorce can be simplified after a certain amount of time has passed, depending on the issues that were pre-determined during the separation proceedings. The Nashville divorce lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC can help you follow the steps necessary to convert your legal separation into a finalized divorce.

Our firm represents clients in all stages of a divorce, assisting them in identifying and dividing assets, as well as negotiating alimony payments, child support and visitation issues, and all other important matters that arise when a couple has decided to part ways. MHPS, PLLC is dedicated to ensuring that your best interests are served throughout the difficult time of deciding to end a marriage. If you have questions regarding converting separation into divorce, you should contact our attorneys today to learn more about our services.

Converting Separation Into Divorce in Tennessee

Legal separation is granted on the same grounds as divorce in Tennessee. It can be filed on a no-fault basis, citing 'irreconcilable differences,' or it can be based on the fault of one spouse for reasons such as adultery, abandonment, habitual substance abuse, and other actions. The main key difference between a separation and a divorce is that, even though the spouses live apart from each other during a legal separation, the state still recognizes them as married, and thus either is unable to remarry until a formal divorce is granted.

Additionally, when a couple is legally separated, a court can decide whether or not to divide their property at that time, or if it would be better to wait until an official divorce has been granted. If a court has decided to divide property during a separation, any assets acquired by either spouse during the course of a legal separation would be considered separate, instead of marital, property. Couples may choose to file for a legal separation instead of immediately initiating divorce proceedings for a variety of reasons, which commonly include:

  • Retaining health insurance benefits.
  • Retaining certain military benefits of one spouse.
  • Tax purposes, such as filing a joint tax return.
  • Retaining or obtaining Social Security benefits based on the term of a marriage.

However, legal separation is not ideal for a spouse who wishes to be free from the other spouse's debts quickly, or other legal complications that may arise, such as bankruptcy or a lawsuit. After a couple has been legally separated for two years without reconciliation, one spouse may file to convert the separation into a divorce, a process that does not require obtaining consent from the other spouse. Converting a separation into a formal divorce can also occur pursuant to a Legal Separation Agreement into which the spouses had previously entered at the time of filing for separation. The agreement may contain a time frame in which the conversion is to occur, as well as provisions regarding child custody, visitation, and other matters that need to be settled for a divorce to be final. Either spouse can also decide to file for a divorce during the two-year period before an uncontested conversion would be allowable.

Explore Your Legal Options with a Divorce Lawyer in Nashville or Franklin

Once a divorce is finalized, it can be difficult to modify. As a result, it is important to make sure that you have all of the information regarding your options and the proper process for protecting your future. The family law lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC offer knowledgeable and experienced legal guidance to clients who need assistance converting a legal separation into a divorce. Our firm helps people across Davidson and Williamson Counties, including in Nashville, Franklin, Charlotte, Sylvan Park, and Cool Springs. Contact our office today online or at 615-800-7096 to discuss your options when considering a divorce.