If your spouse is in prison, the thought of divorce might cross your mind. But can you actually divorce your spouse if they are incarcerated? The answer is yes, but the process can be complex and challenging. In this blog post, we will provide more information on this topic to help you navigate the legal aspects of divorcing a spouse in prison.
Legal Requirements for Divorcing an Incarcerated Person in Tennessee
In the state of Tennessee, like in many other states, you can file for divorce from an incarcerated spouse. The grounds for divorce can range from irreconcilable differences to the spouse's conviction of a felony and imprisonment. Additionally, it requires careful attention to the legal requirements, and you must be sure to follow the necessary legal processes exactly.
One of the most critical aspects of this process is ensuring proper service of divorce papers. This means that the incarcerated spouse must be formally notified of the divorce proceedings. In Tennessee, service of divorce papers can be done in person or by certified mail, but this is made more complicated when someone is incarcerated. And it must be done correctly.
If the papers are not served properly, the divorce case could result in delays or even dismissal. Therefore, seeking legal advice or representation is strongly recommended when dealing with these matters. Remember, initiating a divorce is a legal action, and any error could impact the case’s outcome.
Negotiating a Divorce Settlement in the Case of an Incarcerated Spouse
Negotiating a divorce settlement when one spouse is incarcerated adds another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation. However, it is entirely possible to arrive at a fair settlement given the proper guidance and understanding of the legal process.
It is also important to remember that the incarcerated spouse still has the right to participate in the divorce process and contest issues related to the settlement, whether through written correspondence or by telephone, if the court allows it.
Here are some commonly disputed divorce issues that must be settled before your divorce can be finalized:
- Asset Division: This includes tangible assets such as properties, vehicles, and personal belongings, as well as intangible assets like investments, retirement accounts, and business ownership stakes.
- Debt Division: Just as assets are divided in a divorce, so too are any debts accrued during the marriage. This could include mortgages, credit card debt, and personal loans.
- Child Custody and Visitation: Determining who gets custody of the children can be complex, especially with an incarcerated spouse. This also extends to visitation rights for the non-custodial parent.
- Child Support and Alimony: The court may order the incarcerated spouse to pay child support or alimony after their release. These financial obligations can be a major point of contention.
- Retirement and Pension Benefits: If the imprisoned spouse has retirement benefits or pensions, the other spouse might be entitled to a portion of these benefits.
Given the intricacies of negotiating a divorce settlement with an incarcerated spouse, consulting with an experienced family lawyer is advisable to ensure your rights are protected and a fair settlement is reached.
What Happens If Your Incarcerated Spouse Doesn't Respond?
You may be eligible for a default divorce judgment if you've correctly served your incarcerated spouse and they do not respond within the stipulated timeframe. In such scenarios, the court may proceed with the divorce case in the absence of the incarcerated spouse's participation. This essentially means that the court may grant the divorce and decide on critical issues like asset division, child custody, and alimony without your spouse's input.
Our Team Is Here to Help
Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with a divorce while your spouse is in prison. That's why it's crucial to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.
If your spouse is incarcerated and you are considering divorce, contact Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC, for experienced and compassionate legal representation.