What You Need to Know About Serving Divorce Papers in Tennessee

Those thinking about divorce can find serving papers to their spouse nerve-racking, especially when they are new to the process. Here’s how to serve divorce papers in Tennessee.

Divorce papers must be served directly to the receiving party in Tennessee. There are, however, ways for the serving party to serve their spouse without coming into contact with them. Multiple fees must be paid throughout the filing process in Tennessee.

Filing For Divorce in Tennessee

Before the receiving party is served with divorce papers, the serving party must fill out paperwork to file the divorce with the court. The specific petition for divorce will vary depending on the county, so those seeking a divorce should contact the clerk of the court to determine which petition they will need to fill out. There is, however, information that every petition will contain as outlined by Tennessee law:

  • The full names of both spouses
  • Both spouses’ mailing addresses
  • Both spouses’ dates of birth
  • The race of both spouses
  • The number of previous marriages of each spouse
  • The date and location of the marriage of the spouses
  • The number of the spouses’ minor children at the time the petition is filed
  • Other litigation concerning the custody of the spouses’ minor children

Along with the petition, the serving party must also file a document containing the full names, social security numbers, current mailing addresses, and dates of birth of the spouses and all children they share. An envelope labeled with the names of the spouses must also be filed with the clerk.

When filing the petition and other documents, the serving spouse must pay court filing fees. These fees will vary depending on the county, so those seeking a divorce should contact the clerk of court to understand how much they will need to pay. If they cannot afford the filing fee, serving spouses may also request a fee waiver by filing a request to postpone filing fees and orders.

The serving party should always ensure that the petition and corresponding documents are completely and accurately filled out. This will prevent the case from being dismissed in court over a simple filing error. To ensure the smoothest and most precise filing process, serving parties should consult a Tennessee divorce attorney.

Related: Contested and Uncontested Divorce: The Difference

Serving A Spouse in Tennessee

After filing a divorce petition, the necessary documents, and the filing fee with the clerk of the court, the court will issue a summons. The serving spouse will then need to serve their spouse with a copy of the divorce petition and the summons to their spouse, thus giving them official notice of the divorce. The procedures for serving a spouse with divorce papers are dictated by Tennessee Code §36-4-103.

Many areas in Tennessee, such as Nashville and Memphis, allow a sheriff’s deputy or process server to serve the receiving spouse instead of the serving spouse. To determine if a sheriff’s deputy can serve papers for them, serving spouses should either contact the clerk of the court or consult a Tennessee divorce attorney.

Another way to serve divorce papers is through the mail for a $20 mailing fee. The papers must first be mailed to the secretary of state.

If the serving spouse cannot locate the receiving spouse, they may publish the divorce papers in the newspaper.

The receiving party may also submit a waiver to the court. This waiver would replace the serving of divorce papers so that papers would not have to be delivered. Waivers must either reference the specific divorce case by a court and docket number or state that the receiving spouse is aware that their divorce will be filed in Tennessee. The waiver means that the receiving party will not be able to file an answer to the divorce petition. Waivers are valid for 180 days after it is signed.

Related: How to Serve Divorce Papers in Texas

FAQs About Serving Divorce Papers in Tennessee

What happens after divorce papers are served?

After the receiving party is served divorce papers, they may answer and file a countersuit. Then, the lawsuit will begin.

How much are the serving fees?

The cost to serve a spouse with divorce papers will vary depending on the county and how much the sheriff or process server charges. However, serving fees usually do not cost more than $75. To determine the exact amount they will have to pay, serving parties should contact their local sheriff or clerk of the court.

How long do divorces take?

While the length of a divorce will be determined by the specific case, no-fault divorces in Tennessee usually take a few months to be completed. Contested divorces, however, can last years.

How do I serve my spouse if they live in another state?

If the receiving spouse lives in a different state, the serving spouse should consult an experienced divorce attorney to determine which state they should file for divorce in. This is because Tennessee courts may not have jurisdiction over certain out-of-state divorce cases.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Serve Divorce Papers Tennessee, get your free consultation with one of our Divorce Attorneys in Tennessee today!