5 Advantages of Filing First in My Tennessee Divorce
Filing for Divorce First in Tennessee
In any Tennessee divorce, one spouse or the other will file the complaint and get the ball rolling.Remember the old Abbott and Costello baseball schtick “Who’s on First?” with a team of players named: Who, What, Why, Because, Today, Tomorrow, I Don’t Care, and I Don’t Know? Well being the one “Who’s on First” is often an essential component of divorce strategy.
Filing to end a marriage should never be taken lightly and the desired outcome should not be left to chance. In an attempt to better control the events and the results, the spouse who files a divorce complaint may have some significant advantages over the responding party.
Here are five reasons why being the one “Who’s on First” may influence the dissolution of a Tennessee marriage.
5 Reasons to Be the TN Spouse Who Files First
With divorce in Tennessee, there are five main reasons why it can be advantageous to be the party who files first. Although these reasons will have greater application with some divorces than with others, in general they may be influential to the case and should at least be considered when strategizing for divorce.
1. Divorce Trial.
In a divorce, the spouse who filed first will also take the lead if there is a trial. Depending upon the circumstances, this could be a huge advantage for the party who’s on first. For example, if you filed for divorce, then at trial your lawyer would present your arguments and your evidence first. As most of us learned in preparing for job interviews, first impressions are very important and can sometimes make the difference in achieving the results we hope for.
This may not be all that significant in practice, however, because the majority of divorces are fully settled. When the parties reach complete agreement, there is no need for a trial. No disputed issues remain for the judge to decide regarding, for example, parenting time or the need for rehabilitative alimony.
2. Strategic Momentum.
Similarly, in many contested divorces, one spouse generally takes the lead. Many experienced family lawyers believe that the more aggressive lawyer who initiates the action may have the advantage. That particular theory can be debated, however, but some husbands and wives certainly feel more comfortable filing the divorce (rather than being the one who has to react and respond to it).
3. Dismissal Upon Reconciliation.
The spouse who filed first can also choose to have his or her case dismissed if the other spouse has not filed a counter-compliant, as when the couple has reconciled or both desire to give their marriage more time to see if life improves. (Many spouses reconcile their differences after the divorce is initiated, often with the help of a marriage counselor or respected personal advisor.)
This is another control issue. The spouse who initiates can also have the action dismissed. The other party, the respondent, does not have the dismissal option simply because he or she doesn’t want a divorce.
4. Mandatory Injunctive Relief.
Like other states, Tennessee imposes a mandatory injunction on both parties the moment the Complaint for Divorce is filed if the requisite filing requirements are handled properly. By setting the filing date, the spouse who’s on first also controls when that injunction goes into effect.
This mandatory injunction is intended to prevent the spouses from doing things during the divorce proceedings that affect the marital property, the children, and the other party.
The scope of the T.C.A. § 36-4-106 mandatory injunction is applied very broadly. Both spouses are prohibited from doing any of the following things without first obtaining consent from the other party or a court order:
- Transferring, assigning, borrowing against, concealing, dissipating, or disposing of any marital property;
- Voluntarily canceling, changing beneficiaries, modifying, terminating, assigning, or allowing to lapse for nonpayment of premium, any insurance policy affecting either spouse or the children (life, health, disability, homeowners, renters, automobile, and so on);
- Harassing, threatening, assaulting or abusing the other spouse, or from making disparaging remarks about the other parent in the minor child’s presence or in presence of a spouse’s employer;
- Relocating with their minor child outside Tennessee or more than 100 miles from the marital home (there’s an exception for the relocating spouse who is running from domestic violence or abuse); and
- Hiding, destroying, or spoiling any electronic evidence stored on computer or other memory storage devices.
If those prohibitions are insufficient to protect both parties, the children, and the marital assets, then either party may ask the court to broaden the scope of the injunction even further.
5. Speedy Divorce.
If you’re objective is to get from first base to home as quickly as possible in your divorce. If you’ll do anything to speed up the process, including being the one who files first, then take a few minutes to read how An Uncontested Divorce Can Settle in as Little as 60 Days.
Strategizing Tennessee Divorce Options
If you, your spouse, or a good friend is considering divorce, check out The Tennessee Divorce Client’s Handbook: What Every Divorcing Spouse Needs to Know by Miles Mason, Sr. This easy-to-understand divorce handbook covers all the basics, from child custody to alimony, and is currently available on Amazon and Kindle.
Take a look at a recent article in Forbes by Jeff Landers: What Are the Financial and Legal Advantages of Being First to File for Divorce? Landers points out several financial and legal advantages to being the spouse who initiates the action.
Miles Mason, Sr., is a Memphis divorce attorney who practices family law exclusively. He is also the founding attorney of the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC. To schedule your confidential consultation, call us today at (901) 683-1850.