This month’s post is by Attorney and Rule 31 Listed Civil Mediator Loren A. Sanderson. Loren focuses her practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, and adoption.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless you find yourself in an unhappy, unhealthy marriage. We have found that, oftentimes, clients wish to avoid filing for divorce until after the holiday season, once the New Year arrives. While the holiday season may be difficult, taking stock of your marriage and resolving to begin the New Year by making a big step toward a healthier life – for yourself and for your children – is definitely something to celebrate.
Clients know that divorce will mean many changes for them and for their families, and this is a frequent source of stress. The good news is that from the time a divorce is first filed with the clerk, the courts begin doing something very important: protecting litigants by helping to preserve the status quo of the marriage. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 36-6-106(d), when a divorce is filed in Tennessee, a statutory injunction goes into place that restrains parties from the following absent the agreement of the other party:
a.) Transferring, assigning, borrowing against, concealing, or in any way dissipating or disposing of any marital property;
b.) Canceling, modifying, terminating, or allowing to lapse for non-payment of premiums any insurance policy, including life, health, disability, homeowners, renters, or automobile, including changing the beneficiary status;
c.) Hiding, destroying, or spoiling any evidence electronically stored;
d.) Relocating any children outside the state of Tennessee, or more than 100 miles from the marital home, except in the case of well-founded fear of physical abuse against either the fleeing party or the child.
In addition to the statutory injunction, Courts help to preserve the status quo of the marriage through pendente lite (Latin for “pending litigation”) orders. Pendente lite orders, also often called “temporary orders”, can govern a myriad of issues, but most often deal with custody, child support, spousal support, or allocation of marital expenses. If the parties cannot agree on the terms of these orders, a pendente lite hearing, which typically occurs early on after the filing of a divorce, will take place wherein a judge will hear testimony and render a decision.
From the time parties are no longer living together, it is appropriate – and in everyone’s best interest – to have pendente lite orders for custody and child support. Absent new or emergency circumstances, the Court will do its best to maintain the status quo of the marriage – if the parties were equal caretakers of the children during the marriage, then it is more likely that a pendente lite order will be entered giving each parent equal time with the children. The Court will also put down an order for temporary child support to ensure that the children are able to maintain the marital standard of living. If one spouse financially supported the other, then the Court may award temporary spousal support to the disadvantaged spouse to ensure that he or she can continue to maintain his or her standard of living while the divorce is pending. In an effort to preserve the marital assets of the parties, the Court may also enter a temporary order requiring one party or the other to ensure that the mortgage, car payments, utilities, and the like are being paid.
Here at Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder, and King, PLLC, we do our best to provide compassionate guidance and reassurance to our clients throughout the divorce process. If you are considering filing for divorce and would like to know more about your options, please call our office and set up an appointment for a complimentary consultation. While many changes must inevitably occur when you decide to file for divorce, most find comfort in knowing that the Court’s preference for maintaining the status quo of the marriage will ensure that these changes happen gradually.
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