Family Law

Compassionate Attorneys Helping Nashville Residents Dissolve a Marriage

Any changes in a family relationship can cause stress and anxiety for individuals in Nashville or the surrounding area. The family law lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard recognize the sensitive nature of cases involving separation, divorce, child custody, property division, and other matters. That is why our legal team strives to represent your best interests while defusing the tension in a legal proceeding. From our inviting office in one of Nashville’s oldest neighborhoods, our lawyers serve clients throughout Middle Tennessee, including Davidson and Williamson Counties.

Divorce Proceedings in Tennessee

Many married couples are unaware that divorce is not their only option for resolving difficulties in their relationship. Under Tennessee law, spouses may file a complaint for legal separation. If granted by the court, it allows the parties to live apart and can address initial issues regarding child custody, property division, and support payments. In this situation, parties may be able to work out some of their marital issues without going through the full process of divorce.

In the event that two individuals ultimately wish to divorce, there are certain requirements under Tennessee law that must be met. The person filing the petition must present the grounds for divorce. In some cases, a court may require additional facts that support the grounds. Under the laws of Tennessee, an individual may assert one of many reasons for divorce, including irreconcilable differences, adultery, desertion, inappropriate marital conduct, or the completion of a two-year separation. After a Complaint for divorce has been filed, the parties must wait for a period of 60 days (if there are no minor children involved) before seeking a hearing on the matter. If the couple has children, the parties must wait 90 days to obtain a hearing date.

Child Custody and Child Support

A Tennessee court will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child(ren). The court will consider a wide variety of factors in making a custody determination, some of which are required by state law. A few of the factors considered may include the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s capability for performing parental responsibilities, who has primarily provided care for the child in the past, the capability of each parent to provide necessary care for the child, the emotional and developmental needs of the child, and a parent’s physical, mental, and emotional fitness. If a child is 12 years of age or older, the court may permit the child to state a preference for custodial arrangements, although this alone will not be decisive.

Child support payments are determined by specific guidelines and take several matters into consideration. These range from a parent’s gross income, imputed income, and past and present employment to his or her education and the number of the children each party is legally obligated to support. In Tennessee, income can include any and all wages, bonuses, pension and retirement plans, dividends, gifts, and insurance benefits, such as workers’ compensation and unemployment.

Modification of Court Orders

Both parents have the right to file a Petition to Modify and allege that a material change in circumstances has occurred that warrants a review of custody/parenting time. The material change must have taken place since the previous court order was entered and it must have been an unanticipated change.

Both parents have the right to file a Petition to Modify Child Support. However, the parent seeking modification must show that there is a significant variance, or a difference of at least 15% in the ordered child support payment amount and what the payment would be with a current calculation under the Child Support Guidelines.

Discuss Your Family Law Matter with an Experienced Lawyer

If you or someone you know is dealing with a family law issue in Middle Tennessee, including Green Hills, Bellevue, Belle Meade, and Franklin, you should consider contacting the knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard. We will take the time to listen to the details of your situation and address any concerns and needs you have. To speak with one of our attorneys, contact us online or call (615) 800-7096. We represent individuals in Brentwood and other communities across Davidson and Williamson County.