What You Need to Know About Filing for Divorce in Tennessee
The process for divorce in Tennessee is complex. Here’s what you need to know about how to file for divorce in Tennessee.
An individual is only eligible to file for a divorce if they meet two specific requirements. Tennessee allows individuals to file for a contested or uncontested divorce. The process of filing a divorce in Tennessee occurs in 5 main phases.
Tennessee Divorce Requirements
Tennessee requires an individual to meet two basic requirements before they can file a divorce. An individual has to meet the state’s residency requirement and possess a legally acceptable reason for terminating their marital relationship.
Tennessee requires at least one spouse to have resided in the state for at least 6 months immediately before filing the divorce.
Tennessee requires an individual to have “grounds” for divorce. Grounds are legally accepted reasons for ending a marriage. Tennessee has both “fault” and “no-fault” grounds. Fault grounds apply when the individual filing the divorce is accusing their spouse of serious wrongdoing, resulting in the breakdown of their marriage. No-fault grounds apply when neither spouse is blaming the other for marital misconduct and both agree to end their relationship.
Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee
Fault-based grounds for divorce in Tennessee are:
- Impotence and sterility,
- Willful or malicious desertion for a year without a reasonable cause,
- Conviction of a crime resulting in infamy,
- Conviction of a felony,
- Attempted murder,
- Refusal of a spouse to move to Tennessee resulting in living apart for two years,
- Wife was pregnant from a man other than the husband at the time of marriage without the husband’s knowledge,
- Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs (habit began after marriage)
- Cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct,
- Indignities to a spouse’s person, and
- Abandonment or refusal/neglecting to provide for the spouse.
The two no-fault-based grounds for divorce in Tennessee are:
- Irreconcilable differences and,
- Two years of separation with no minor children.
Uncontested Divorce in Tennessee
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on every term of the divorce. The spouses do not have to prove fault or go through a trial. Both spouses only have to complete and file all divorce forms: the Divorce Complaint, Marital Dissolution Agreement, and Agreed Parenting Plan (if the spouse has any minor children under 18.)
Steps to a Contested Divorce in Tennessee
A contested divorce takes much longer than an uncontested divorce since both spouses have not agreed on all divorce terms. Typically, the issues resolve through trial. In Tennessee, the divorce trial occurs in 5 main phases.
1. Complete the Divorce Complaint
The first step for a divorce in Tennessee is completing the Complaint for Divorce. The form will include information about the date and location of the marriage, the date of separation, grounds for divorce, any minor children, assets and debts, and income/ budget needs. The individual will need to sign the complaint in front of a notary.
2. Filing the Forms
Next, an individual must file the Complaint for Divorce at the Clerk of Court in the county where their spouse lives or where the individual lived after separation. The divorce has officially started once the clerk successfully files the complaint.
3. Serve the Spouse
The plaintiff must serve the complaint and summons on the defendant. The defendant has 30 days to file an answer and counter-complaint after they receive the service.
The discovery phase allows both parties of the divorce to exchange and gather information relevant to the case. Both parties can gather information including assets, income, fault allegations, debt, and budgets. The court will use the information to make decisions on issues such as property division, child support and custody, and alimony.
5. Settlement Efforts or Trial
The last step of the divorce is either settlement or trial. Most divorce cases in Tennessee can reach an out-of-court settlement, often through mediation. However, cases not settled through mediation will go through a trial.
FAQs about How to File for Divorce in Tennessee
How much does a divorce cost in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, an individual can expect to pay between $184 to $301 to file a complaint for divorce. The actual cost depends on if the couple has minor children. The overall cost of a divorce is difficult to estimate and depends on the circumstances of the case.
How long does a divorce take in Tennessee?
For divorcing spouses who have minor children, the court will mandate a 90-day “cooling off” period after one party files a Complaint for Divorce. The court will not grant the divorce until the period has ended. For divorcing spouses with no minor children, the court will grant the divorce 60 days after one party files a Complaint for Divorce.
Do I need an attorney for my divorce in Tennessee?
Individuals who are filing for divorce should strongly consider hiring an attorney. An attorney will help their clients fully understand their rights and obligations.