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My husband came home packed his clothes and left... he says

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he wants a divorce and...
my husband came home packed his clothes and left... he says he wants a divorce and we are stilling spending time together and having marital times...how long do we have to be separated before he can file and what do i do to protect myself
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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10/12/2009
Lawyer: Ray, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
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Thanks for your question.Consider separating your finances here and scouting out a good local lawyer.It never hurts to meet with one preliminarily and get more information and review of your assets and debts and advice.If you reconcile then consider it good information and background.
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Divorce Law
"36-4-101. Grounds for divorce from bonds of matrimony.

The following are causes of divorce from the bonds of matrimony:
(1) Either party, at the time of the contract, was and still is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation;
(2) Either party has knowingly entered into a second marriage, in violation of a previous marriage, still subsisting;
(3) Either party has committed adultery;
(4) Willful or malicious desertion or absence of either party, without a reasonable cause, for one (1) whole year;
(5) Being convicted of any crime that, by the laws of the state, renders the party infamous;
(6) Being convicted of a crime that, by the laws of the state, is declared to be a felony, and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary;
(7) Either party has attempted the life of the other, by poison or any other means showing malice;
(8) Refusal, on the part of a spouse, to remove with that person's spouse to this state, without a reasonable cause, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two (2) years;
(9) The woman was pregnant at the time of the marriage, by another person, without the knowledge of the husband;
(10) Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of either party, when the spouse has contracted either such habit after marriage;
(11) The husband or wife is guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as renders cohabitation unsafe and improper, which may also be referred to in pleadings as inappropriate marital conduct;
(12) The husband or wife has offered such indignities to the spouse's person as to render the spouse's position intolerable, and thereby forced the spouse to withdraw;
(13) The husband or wife has abandoned the spouse or turned the spouse out of doors for no just cause, and has refused or neglected to provide for the spouse while having the ability to so provide;
(14) Irreconcilable differences between the parties; and
(15) For a continuous period of two (2) or more years that commenced prior to or after April 18, 1985, both parties have lived in separate residences, have not cohabited as man and wife during such period, and there are no minor children of the parties.

[Code 1858, § 2448 (deriv. Acts 1819, ch. 20, § 2; 1835-1836, ch. 26, §§ 1, 2; 1841-1842, ch. 133, § 3; 1843-1844, ch. 176, § 1); Acts 1867-1868, ch. 63, § 1; 1867-1868, ch. 68, § 1; Shan., § 4201; mod. Code 1932, § 8426; Acts 1961, ch. 168, § 1; 1972, ch. 679, § 1; 1977, ch. 107, § 1; 1978, ch. 577, § 1; 1981, ch. 311, § 1; 1981, ch. 420, § 1; 1981, ch. 532, § 1; 1982, ch. 853, § 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-801(I); Acts 1985, ch. 178, § 1; 1989, ch. 393, § 1; 1998, ch. 1059, § 1.]

36-4-103. Irreconcilable differences - Procedure.
(a) (1) In all divorces sought because of irreconcilable differences between the parties, if the defendant is a nonresident, personal service may be effectuated by service upon the secretary of state pursuant to the provisions of § 20-2-215.
(2) In lieu of service of process, the defendant may enter into a written notarized marital dissolution agreement with plaintiff that makes specific reference to a pending divorce by a court and docket number, or states that the defendant is aware that one will be filed in this state and that the defendant waives further service and waives filing an answer to the complaint. Such waiver of service shall be valid for a period of one hundred eighty (180) days from the date the last party signs the agreement. The agreement may include the obligation and payment of alimony, in solido or in futuro, to either of the parties, any other provision of the law notwithstanding. The signing of such an agreement shall be in lieu of service of process for the period such waiver is valid and shall constitute a general appearance before the court and answer that shall give the court personal jurisdiction over the defendant, and constitute a default judgment for the purpose of granting a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
(3) No divorce heretofore granted shall be invalid because the agreement was signed and notarized or acknowledged prior to filing under prior law before the action was filed.
(b) No divorce shall be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences unless the court affirmatively finds in its decree that the parties have made adequate and sufficient provision by written agreement for the custody and maintenance of any children of that marriage and for the equitable settlement of any property rights between the parties. If the court does not affirmatively find that the agreement is sufficient or equitable, the cause shall be continued by the court to allow further disposition by the petitioner. If both parties are present at the hearing, they may, at that time, ratify any amendments the court may have to the agreement. The amended agreement shall then become a part of the decree. The agreement shall be incorporated in the decree or incorporated by reference, and such decree may be modified as other decrees for divorce.
(c) (1) Bills for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences must have been on file for sixty (60) days before being heard if the parties have no unmarried child under eighteen (18) years of age, and must have been on file at least ninety (90) days before being heard if the parties have an unmarried child under eighteen (18) years of age. The sixty-day or ninety-day period bills for divorce that must be on file shall commence on the date the original bill was filed and not on the date the bill was amended to include the ground of irreconcilable differences.
(2) A divorce decree or order issued prior to March 22, 1996, in which the hearing for such divorce occurred before the specified time periods required by this subsection (c), shall remain valid and the parties shall remain divorced. Likewise, all other issues resolved in the divorce decree, order or agreement, such as distribution of marital property, alimony, child support and custody, shall remain valid and in full force and effect.
(d) (1) A bill of complaint for divorce where the respondent has been personally served or acknowledged as set out in subsection (a), which includes the ground of irreconcilable differences, may be taken as confessed and a final decree entered thereon, as in other cases and without corroborative proof or testimony, the provisions of §§ 36-4-107 and 36-4-114 to the contrary notwithstanding.
(2) For purposes of this section, "without corroborative proof or testimony" means that the petitioner shall not be required to testify as to the material facts constituting irreconcilable differences or any attempts to reconcile such differences.
(e) If there has been a contest or denial of the grounds of irreconcilable differences, no divorce shall be granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. However, a divorce may be granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences where there has been a contest or denial, if a properly executed marital dissolution agreement is presented to the court.
(f) Irreconcilable differences may be asserted as a sole ground for divorce or as an alternate ground for divorce with any other cause for divorce set out in § 36-4-101 or § 36-4-102.

[Code 1858, § 2448 (deriv. Acts 1819, ch. 20, § 2; 1835-1836, ch. 26, §§ 1, 2; 1841-1842, ch. 133, § 3; 1843-1844, ch. 176, § 1); Acts 1867-1868, ch. 63, § 1; 1867-1868, ch. 68, § 1; Shan., § 4201; mod. Code 1932, § 8426; Acts 1961, ch. 168, § 1; 1972, ch. 679, § 1; 1977, ch. 107, § 1; 1978, ch. 577, § 1; 1981, ch. 311, § 1; 1981, ch. 420, § 1; 1981, ch. 532, § 1; 1982, ch. 853, § 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-801(II); Acts 1987, ch. 390, §§ 3, 4; 1989, ch. 489, §§ 2, 3; 1991, ch. 234, § 1; 1996, ch. 655, § 2; 1998, ch. 1059, § 4.]

36-4-104. Residence requirements.
(a) A divorce may be granted for any of the causes referenced in § 36-4-101 if the acts complained of were committed while the plaintiff was a bona fide resident of this state or if the acts complained of were committed out of this state and the plaintiff resided out of the state at the time, if the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in this state six (6) months next preceding the filing of the complaint.
(b) For the purposes of this section, any person in the armed services of the United States, or the spouse of any such person, who has been living in this state for a period of not less than one (1) year shall be presumed to be a resident of this state, and the presumption of residence shall be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence of a domicile elsewhere.

[Code 1858, § 2450 (deriv. Acts 1799, ch. 19, § 7; 1835-1836, ch. 26, § 1; 1839-1840, ch. 54, § 1; 1845-1846, ch. 67, § 1); Shan., § 4203; Code 1932, § 8428; Acts 1957, ch. 274, § 1; 1971, ch. 363, § 1; 1973, ch. 219, § 1; 1976, ch. 548, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-803.]

36-4-105. Venue.
(a) The bill or petition may be filed in the proper name of the complainant, in the chancery or circuit court or other court having divorce jurisdiction, in the county where the parties reside at the time of their separation, or in which the defendant resides, if a resident of the state; but if the defendant is a nonresident of the state or a convict, then in the county where the applicant resides.
(b) Any divorce granted prior to May 4, 1967, will not be deemed void solely on the ground that the parties to the divorce action were residents of a county or counties other than the county in which the divorce decree was entered.

[Code 1858, § 2451 (deriv. Acts 1835-1836, ch. 26, § 3); Acts 1859-1860, ch. 88; Shan., § 4204; Code 1932, § 8429; Acts 1961, ch. 180, § 1; 1963, ch. 153, § 1; 1967, ch. 185, § 1; 1971, ch. 363, § 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-804.]

...For further information, please refer to the Tennessee Code, Title 36

"How Can I Obtain a Divorce?" - LawBytes from the Tennessee Bar Association
"Who is Responsible for the Debts of a Husband or Wife?" - LawBytes from the Tennessee Bar Association


Marriage and Living Together Laws
Tennessee Marriage License Information

Child Support
Tennessee Child Support Guidelines

...For further information, please refer to the Tennessee Code, Title 36

Tennessee Child Support Worksheets
Tennessee Child Support Calculator - provided by AllLaw.com
T
N Department of Human Services
"How is Financial Support for a Child or Spouse Established in a Divorce?" - LawBytes from the Tennessee Bar Association
"What if Child Support or Alimony is Not Paid?" - LawBytes from the Tennessee Bar Association
Child Support Explained


Child Custody and Visitation Law
36-6-106. Child custody.
(a) In a suit for annulment, divorce, separate maintenance, or in any other proceeding requiring the court to make a custody determination regarding a minor child, such determination shall be made upon the basis of the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including the following where applicable:
(1) The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child;
(2) The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver;
(3) The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment; provided, that where there is a finding, under § 36-6-106(a)(8), of child abuse, as defined in §§ 39-15-401 or 39-15-402, or child sexual abuse, as defined in § 37-1-602, by one (1) parent, and that a non-perpetrating parent has relocated in order to flee the perpetrating parent, that such relocation shall not weigh against an award of custody;
(4) The stability of the family unit of the parents;
(5) The mental and physical health of the parents;
(6) The home, school and community record of the child;
(7) (A) The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older;
(B) The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;
(8) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; provided, that where there are allegations that one (1) parent has committed child abuse, as defined in §§ 39-15-401 or 39-15-402, or child sexual abuse, as defined in § 37-1-602, against a family member, the court shall consider all evidence relevant to the physical and emotional safety of the child, and determine, by a clear preponderance of the evidence, whether such abuse has occurred. The court shall include in its decision a written finding of all evidence, and all findings of facts connected thereto. In addition, the court shall, where appropriate, refer any issues of abuse to the juvenile court for further proceedings;
(9) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child; and
(10) Each parent's past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities, including the willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, the court has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination regarding a minor child or may modify a prior order of child custody upon finding that the custodial parent has been convicted of or found civilly liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent or legal guardian.

[Acts 1995, ch. 428, § 2; 1998, ch. 1003, § 1; 1998, ch. 1095, §§ 2, 3; 2000, ch. 683, § 2.]

36-6-301. Visitation.

After making an award of custody, the court shall, upon request of the non-custodial parent, grant such rights of visitation as will enable the child and the non-custodial parent to maintain a parent-child relationship unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation is likely to endanger the child's physical or emotional health. In granting any such rights of visitation, the court shall designate in which parent's home each minor child shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations and other special occasions. If the court finds that the non-custodial parent has physically or emotionally abused the child, the court may require that visitation be supervised or prohibited until such abuse has ceased or until there is no reasonable likelihood that such abuse will recur. The court may not order the department of children's services to provide supervision of visitation pursuant to this section except in cases where the department is the petitioner or intervening petitioner in a case in which the custody or guardianship of a child is at issue. "

[Acts 1995, ch. 428, § 3; 1996, ch. 1079, § 71; 1998, ch. 1050, § 1.]

...For further information, please refer to the Tennessee Code, Title 36

FAQ on Child Custody and Visitation
Child Custody Resources
"Child Visitation" - LawBytes from the Tennessee Bar Association
"How Do I Enforce Visitation Rights?" - LawBytes from the Tennessee Bar Association


Property Division
36-4-121. Distribution of marital property.

(a) (1) In all actions for divorce or legal separation, the court having jurisdiction thereof may, upon request of either party, and prior to any determination as to whether it is appropriate to order the support and maintenance of one (1) party by the other, equitably divide, distribute or assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital fault in proportions as the court deems just.
(2) In all actions for legal separation, the court, in its discretion, may equitably divide, distribute, or assign the marital property in whole or in part, or reserve the division or assignment of marital property until a later time. If the court makes a final distribution of marital property at the time of the decree of legal separation, any after-acquired property is separate property.
(3) To this end, the court shall be empowered to effectuate its decree by divesting and reinvesting title to such property and, where deemed necessary, to order a sale of such property and to order the proceeds divided between the parties.
(A) Any auction sale of property ordered pursuant to this section shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of title 35, chapter 5.
(B) The court may order the provisions of title 35, chapter 5, to apply to any sale ordered by the court pursuant to this section.
(C) The court, in its discretion, may impose any additional conditions or procedures upon the sale of property in divorce cases as are reasonably designed to ensure that such property is sold for its fair market value.
(b) For purposes of this chapter:
(1) (A) "Marital property" means all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible, acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing and owned by either or both spouses as of the date of filing of a complaint for divorce, except in the case of fraudulent conveyance in anticipation of filing, and including any property to which a right was acquired up to the date of the final divorce hearing, and valued as of a date as near as reasonably possible to the final divorce hearing date. In the case of a complaint for legal separation, the court may make a final disposition of the marital property either at the time of entering an order of legal separation or at the time of entering a final divorce decree, if any. If the marital property is divided as part of the order of legal separation, any property acquired by a spouse thereafter is deemed separate property of that spouse. All marital property shall be valued as of a date as near as possible to the date of entry of the order finally dividing the marital property.
(B) "Marital property" includes income from, and any increase in value during the marriage of, property determined to be separate property in accordance with subdivision (b)(2) if each party substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation, and the value of vested and unvested pension, vested and unvested stock option rights, retirement or other fringe benefit rights relating to employment that accrued during the period of the marriage.
(C) "Marital property" includes recovery in personal injury, workers' compensation, social security disability actions, and other similar actions for the following: wages lost during the marriage, reimbursement for medical bills incurred and paid with marital property, and property damage to marital property.
(D) As used in this subsection (b), "substantial contribution" may include, but not be limited to, the direct or indirect contribution of a spouse as homemaker, wage earner, parent or family financial manager, together with such other factors as the court having jurisdiction thereof may determine.
(E) Property shall be considered marital property as defined by this subsection (b) for the sole purpose of dividing assets upon divorce or legal separation and for no other purpose; and assets distributed as marital property will not be considered as income for child support or alimony purposes, except to the extent the asset will create additional income after the division.
(2) "Separate property" means:
(A) All real and personal property owned by a spouse before marriage, including, but not limited to, assets held in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as that term is defined in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
(B) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage;
(C) Income from and appreciation of property owned by a spouse before marriage except when characterized as marital property under subdivision (b)(1);
(D) Property acquired by a spouse at any time by gift, bequest, devise or descent;
(E) Pain and suffering awards, victim of crime compensation awards, future medical expenses, and future lost wages; and
(F) Property acquired by a spouse after an order of legal separation where the court has made a final disposition of property.
(c) In making equitable division of marital property, the court shall consider all relevant factors including:
(1) The duration of the marriage;
(2) The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities and financial needs of each of the parties;
(3) The tangible or intangible contribution by one (1) party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
(4) The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
(5) The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, depreciation or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including the contribution of a party to the marriage as homemaker, wage earner or parent, with the contribution of a party as homemaker or wage earner to be given the same weight if each party has fulfilled its role;
(6) The value of the separate property of each party;
(7) The estate of each party at the time of the marriage;
(8) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective;
(9) The tax consequences to each party, costs associated with the reasonably foreseeable sale of the asset, and other reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the asset;
(10) The amount of social security benefits available to each spouse; and
(11) Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
(d) The court may award the family home and household effects, or the right to live therein and use the household effects for a reasonable period, to either party, but shall give special consideration to a spouse having physical custody of a child or children of the marriage.
(e) (1) The court may impose a lien upon the marital real property assigned to a party, or upon such party's separate real property, or both, as security for the payment of child support.
(2) The court may impose a lien upon the marital real property assigned to a party as security for the payment of spouse support or payment pursuant to property division.
(f) (1) If, in making equitable distribution of marital property, the court determines that the distribution of an interest in a business, corporation or profession would be contrary to law, the court may make a distributive award of money or other property in order to achieve equity between the parties. The court, in its discretion, may also make a distributive award of money or other property to supplement, facilitate or effectuate a distribution of marital property.
(2) The court may provide that any distributive award payable over a period of time be secured by a lien on specific property.
(g) (1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the affirmation, ratification and incorporation in a decree of an agreement between the parties regarding the division of property.
(2) Nothing in this section shall affect validity of an antenuptial agreement that is enforceable under § 36-3-501.
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The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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