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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > How Does Equitable Distribution Work When Both Parties Are Struggling Financially?

How Does Equitable Distribution Work When Both Parties Are Struggling Financially?


The stereotype goes that, the richer you are, the messier your divorce case is, but it does not always work out that way.  Some wealthy people, having learned the hard way in a previous divorce, sign prenuptial agreements in which they resolve all the financial issues that could complicate their divorce before problems arise.  Besides this, the less of a financial cushion you have, the more urgent it is to enforce your child support order if your ex-spouse falls behind on child support payments.  Even though it is the high net worth divorces that take up the news headlines, most of the cases that family courts decide involve families with little financial security, which is unsurprising, given that debt and the gig economy are becoming universal in America.  It is possible to accomplish your goals in the family court, such as divorce, adoption, and establishing, enforcing, and modifying child support, without hiring a Tennessee family law attorney.

When a Teen Romance Becomes an Ugly Divorce

Frank and Melody Butler got married in 1989 shortly before the birth of their oldest child.  Frank, who was eighteen at the time of the wedding, had finished the tenth grade, while Melody, who was fifteen, had dropped out of school in the middle of the eighth grade.  Frank filed for divorce in 1997; at this time, he was 27, Melody was 25, and their children were eight, seven, and an infant.  They both had full-time jobs; Frank was working at a paper manufacturing company and earning $10.89 per hour, while Melody earned $5.65 per hour at a supermarket.  During the divorce, the court ordered Frank not to harass Melody, not to destroy or dispose of marital property, to maintain all the insurance policies the couple had before they separated, not to consume alcohol in the presence of the children, and to pay $565 per month in child support while the divorce was pending.

During the marriage, the parties purchased 17 acres of land and a mobile home, but their property went into foreclosure while their divorce was pending.  After separating, the parties moved in with their respective parents.  The equity in their trailer was $6,000; therefore, the judge ordered Frank to pay Melody $3,000, but he could not come up with the money.  The parties had taken out a personal loan for $12,000; the court awarded that debt to Melody but ordered Frank to pay her $100 per month, half the monthly installment payment.  They had also financed a freezer; in the divorce judgment, Melody kept the freezer but was required to make the $60 per month payments on it herself.  The court ordered Frank to pay $134 per week in child support.  Frank paid child support sporadically, worsening Melody’s financial struggles.  Melody appealed the division of property, but the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s judgment and held Melody responsible for her own attorney’s fees.

Let Us Help You Today

Divorce is not a fast track to financial stability, but the court must divide assets and debts in a way that is fair to both parties.  Contact Knoxville divorce attorney Patrick L. Looper for help.




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