Why You Should File for Divorce Instead of Waiting for Your Estranged Spouse to Do It
You and your spouse both know that your marriage is over. You have gone beyond the stage of telling your friends, or worse, your crush, that you and your spouse are more like roommates than a couple. Maybe one of you has caught the other one cheating, or maybe one spouse has already moved out. Some people will tell you to wait for the right time to file for divorce, but in fact, the right time is now. You might have heard that there is a strategic time to divorce, such as waiting until the beginning of the next calendar year or waiting until your spouse has kept the same job for a few months. If you can tell that your divorce could easily get ugly, you should also be strategic. In this case, though, being strategic means getting to the courthouse with the divorce papers before your spouse does. A Tennessee divorce lawyer can help you strategize.
You Get More Time to Plan
If you file for divorce, you then serve your spouse with the divorce papers, usually by having the sheriff’s office or a private company deliver them but sometimes by mail. Your spouse must respond within 30 days. This is a fairly short deadline for your spouse to put all of their requests in writing and say why they deserve them. The 30 days go by even more quickly if your spouse was not expecting you to file for divorce, either because your spouse didn’t know about their deceit or because the two of you had a long-standing unspoken agreement to remain unhappily married. Your spouse will spend at least the first few days recovering from the shock that the divorce is really happening.
If There Is a Default Judgment, It Will Be in Your Favor
If your spouse does not respond to the divorce petition within 30 days, you can get a default judgment. By failing to respond on time, your spouse loses all rights to make requests with regard to the divorce. Therefore, you get to make unilateral decisions about division of property, parenting, and even child support. It is still up to the court to approve your requests, and some judges will require a hearing before they issue a default judgment in a divorce.
Keep in mind, though, that you must make every effort to give your spouse a chance to respond. Serving papers is a legal procedure with strict rules. If you want a default divorce judgment, you must prove to the court, through a series of documents, that you have made every effort to serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you are sure that your marriage is over, then being the one to make the first move toward divorce can be empowering. The first step is to talk to a divorce attorney. Contact Knoxville divorce attorney Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.