Divorce Papers in Tennessee | Quick & Cheap | Divorce in TN (24/7)
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by Jamie Kurtz

Jamie Kurtz has been a practicing divorce lawyer since 2008. She received her Juris Doctorate from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in 2007. Ms. Kurtz was selected to Rising Stars for 2013 - 2016, 2019 - 2020, a peer designation awarded only to a select number of accomplished attorneys in each state. She also co-founded a law firm that specializes in uncontested divorce cases.

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Online Divorce in Tennessee

divorce in Tennessee

The information below will help the interested person understand more about the divorce in Tennessee.

The common steps of how to get divorce in Tennessee:


Divorce is a legal process which is based on state law, therefore, in order to get a divorce in a Tennessee marriage should be legal, in other words, the Tennessee law recognizes that it has a right to exist.


The interested person must comply with the living conditions, and also must have a reason for which he or she want to terminate the marriage.


If the client do not have common children and common property, and they both want to get a divorce, then the interested person have the right to apply for a more accelerated form of marriage dissolution, to save the time and nerves. Such a divorce is called uncontested. If the interested person have a common underage children or private property, he or she still have the right to an accelerated form of divorce, in case the interested person and the spouse have resolved all the controversial issues regarding the divorce and formed an agreement documentarily. If there is at least one unresolved issue between the spouses, the divorce will be contested and may be delayed for a long period, as the interested person will have to go through a series of court sessions where the judge will decide on the disputes.


To start a divorce, the interested person need to fill out the divorce form documents.


When the Tennessee divorce papers are ready, they need to be filed with the court. If the interested person submit papers without the participation of a spouse, he or she will still need to send a copies to him or her. When the spouse receives copies of the papers, the court will set the date of the first hearing, the minimum waiting period is 60 days.


You can file for a divorce in Tennessee in case if the actions that led to the desire to terminate the marriage were committed while the Plaintiff (the spouse who is suing) was a bona fide resident of the state.

If the actions that led to the desire to terminate the marriage were committed outside the state, and the Plaintiff was a resident of the other state, then in order to file a claim in Tennessee, either the Plaintiff , or the Respondent (the spouse who does not file lawsuit) must reside in the Tennessee for at least 6 months prior to filing a lawsuit.

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Valid grounds to get divorce in Tennessee

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In the state of Tennessee there are two main types of divorce: it is fault divorce and no-fault one. In order to obtain a divorce on the basis of fault grounds, one of the spouses was to be guilty of one of the following:




At the time of marriage and up to the present time, one of the spouses is impotent or barren;


Willful or malicious desertion or absence of either party, without reasonable cause for one year;


If the spouse has committed a crime for which he or she received punishment;


At the time of marriage, the wife was pregnant with another man, and the husband did not know about it;


Abuse of alcohol or drugs or addiction;


Refusal, on the part of one party, to move with his or her spouse to Tennessee, without reasonable cause, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two years;


One of the spouses shows such violence or harsh actions, which makes cohabitation of the spouses unsafe;


One of the spouses has inflicted on his or her partner so much humiliation, which is hard to survive, than forced him or her to leave;


One of the spouses abandoned his or her spouse or turned the spouse out of doors for no good cause, and has been denied or denied to provide for the spouse while having the ability to do so;

The facts of the fault of spouse in court should be proven. The court must still hear the facts of illegal actions on the part of the Respondent, after which the judge either rejects the Petition or grant a divorce.
In the Tennessee the interested person needs only indicate one of the reasons, which include:

  • Irreconcilable differences. However, a divorce for this reason can be obtained on the condition that the spouses have a written agreement on how the custody of minor children (if any) will be divided and the decision regarding the division of common property. 
  • If the spouses voluntarily resided separately and did not live as a husband and wife for at least 2 years and the couple does not have underage children.

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Custody of the child in Tennessee

Custody of the child

If a couple is going through a divorce in Tennessee and the spouses have children of minor age, the court is required to distribute custody rights between the parents. In making its decision, the court is always guided by the best interests of the child. Thus, custody can be divided between parents or be awarded to one parent, depending on what is best for the child.

There is also a presumption that the court will not give custody to the parent who was convicted of a crime against a child under the age of 18 until the court finds clear evidence to the contrary.

The court will indicate what time a child can spend with each of the parents. The decree will include the spouse's places of residence and the days in which the child can visit them. If the court sees evidence that one of the parent voluntarily refused to educate his or her minor child, the hours of visiting such a parent will be significantly curtailed.

Rules for child support in Tennessee

The court has the right to oblige parents to provide financial support to their underage children. The support of children is regulated by the Income Shares Model, which takes into account such parameters as the gross income of parents and the number of underage children for whom support size is set. After that, the total amount is distributed among the parents proportionally depending on their income level and custofy rights.

Uncontested Tennessee divorce with children

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Rules for spousal support in Tennessee

Rules for spousal support

If you are applying for a divorce, then note that the court can oblige one of the spouses to pay alimony (marital support) in favor of a second partner. State law has the following basic types of alimony:

  • Rehabilitative alimony - is aimed at supporting a spouse who is in a difficult economic situation, so that the spouse-recipient could get a job with a level of profitability that will help him or her to get back on their feet.
  • Alimony in futuro - payment of alimony for a long-term period, until the death of one of the spouses or until the spouse-recipient remarries. Can be paid together with rehabilitation support;
  • Transitional alimony - payment of maintenance for a certain period of time, when court considers that the spouse-recipient does not need rehabilitation support, but he or she still has some difficult economic situation;
  • Alimony in solido or lump sum alimony - a long-term type of support, which is obtained before the date established by the court. Such alimony can be paid in installments, as well as paired with any of the above kind of support;

When the court considers the issue of maintenance, it must take into account all the factors that affect the economic situation of the spouses.

Property division in Tennessee

Property division

The grounds that led to the divorce are not taken into account. The division is subject to all property (means ‘common property’) that was acquired by the spouses during the marriage, until the date of the final hearing of the divorce.

The common property includes all tangible and intangible property that was acquired by the husband or wife during the marriage and until the last hearing of the divorce, and also belonged to the husband or wife on the day of filing a complaint with the court.

If the spouses have a separate property, it remains with the original owner after the divorce. Separate property is property acquired in exchange for other property acquired before the marriage; property received by the spouses as a gift or inheritance, regardless of the date of the marriage; property acquired prior to marriage, provided that the second spouse did not make his or hers own vest to increase the value of this property; property acquired after the entry into force of a decree for divorce.

Divorce without a lawyer in Tennessee

It is possible to get a divorce without a lawyer. Cases when a divorce is made without the participation of a lawyer are called Pro Se Divorce, it is a Latin expression that translates as "on her or his own". Depending on which county the interested person lives, the process of divorce in the state of Tennessee can vary.

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Contested Divorce

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Offline and inconvenient process with attorney representation for each spouse. Costly attorney fees resulting in unforeseen expenditures. Lengthy and expensive option.

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Divorce forms in Tennessee

The most common divorce form documents of the state are ‘Request for Divorce’, ‘Spouses' Personal Information’, ‘Final Decree of Divorce’ and ‘Court Order for Divorcing Spouses’. If you and your spouse have an agreement on how to share a common property, then you also have to fill out the ‘Divorce Agreement’.

Uncontested divorce in Tennessee

Uncontested divorce in Tennessee

In order to get an uncontested divorce in Tennessee, the couple should want to dissolve the marriage, and also resolve their differences before filing a lawsuit. In order to obtain an uncontested divorce, the interested person must meet the following conditions:

  • The interested person and the spouse both want to get a divorce;
  • They must have no-fault grounds for divorce, which include:
    - Irreconcilable differences, or:
    - If the spouses voluntarily resided separately and did not live for at least 2 years. But this reason is the basis for a divorce, only if the couple does not have minor children.
  • The interested person or his or her spouse lived in Tennessee for the last 6 months before the petition was filed with the court;
  • The interested person and the spouse have no common minor children. If the interested person has common minor children, then he or she must draw up a written agreement on how the custody will be divided, visiting hours, as well as the amount of financial support for children. Both spouses should agree with all the statements that are in the contract.
  • The interested person or his or her spouse are not business owners, they do not have a common property or pension payments. If the interested person own something of the above, he or she should discuss and draw up a written agreement on how the interested person want to divide the assets and liabilities after the divorce.
  • If one of the spouses is applying for alimony, then the interested person also need to have a written agreement on the amount and payment period.

Please note that all your written agreements must be submitted to court along with the Tennessee divorce papers. If you do not agree with any of the key points of your divorce, it will be considered contested and the court will decide on your disputes, this in turn can significantly delay the process of marriage dissolution.

The interested party can attend to filling out the divorce form documents. He or she will need to fill out the following key divorce documents: ‘Petition for Divorce’, ‘Spouse's Personal Information’, ‘Health Insurance Notice’, ‘Divorce Agreement’, ‘Final Decree of Divorce’, and ‘Notice of Hearing’.
After the interested person filed for an uncontested divorce in Tennessee, he or she need to wait 60 days if the interested person do not have any minor children before the court set a date for the hearing. If the interested person have underage children, the waiting period will be increased to 95 days. If the documents are filed correctly, the court will set the date of the final hearing where the interested person’s spouse must be present as well, during which the court will grant a divorce.

How to serve divorce papers in Tennessee

In order for the court to start proceedings on the case, the interested person need to transfer copies of the divorce form documents that the registered in the court to the spouse so that he or she has the opportunity to review them and, if necessary, file a retaliatory complaint. This is also called the process of serving a spouse. The interested person can serve documents in two allowed ways:

  • Through the office of the sheriff. The interested person applies, he or she pay for the service and the Deputy Sheriff will try to contact the spouse. Keep in mind that the Deputy Sheriff makes only 1 attempt. 
  • Using the private process server. This is a more expensive way, however there will be several attempts made to contact the spouse. 

If the interested person file documents for an uncontested divorce, then he or she do not need to serve as a spouse, since the interested person submit all the Tennessee divorce papers together with a written agreement.
After the interested person serve a spouse, he or she need to wait 60 days before they can go to court to find out the status of the divorce.

Divorce in Tennessee online

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Filing fees for divorce in Tennessee

Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using OnlineDivorce.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I really file for divorce in Tennessee without a lawyer?

The answer is Yes. In Tennessee, any person can handle a legal case without a lawyer. The legal definition for self-representation before the court is Pro Se, meaning that a person acts as their own attorney.

Such a do-it-yourself divorce is subject to the same rules and regulations as a legally-assisted divorce, so the spouses shall take the same steps as lawyers do acting on behalf of their clients.

Therefore, a self-represented litigant must be aware of their responsibility for arranging the divorce procedure and its implications and risks.

Law experts usually do not recommend a DIY approach for contested divorces, i.e., when the spouses are not on the same page and have not agreed about such essential matters as property division, child custody, spousal support, etc.

Do-it-yourself divorce without a lawyer can be a more advantageous option for couples who agree about the key aspects of their separation or those whose divorce case is rather simple since they do not have marital property or shared children.

An agreement between the spouses allows them to have a clear vision of what to expect from the procedure, so often, the paperwork becomes the central issue of such divorce cases. The spouses may either use the self-help section of the Tennessee courts website and handle things independently or get limited-scope assistance, use OnlineDivorce services, and others that are more affordable than lawyers' help.

How can I file for divorce in Tennessee without a lawyer?

To start a divorce action in Tennessee without a lawyer, the spouse initiating the case, called the plaintiff, shall complete the divorce forms required in a particular case and file them with Circuit Court, Chancery Court, or General Sessions Court, depending on the county.

Also, at the moment of filing the documents, the plaintiff must pay a court filing fee. Thus, a divorce case officially starts.

The next step is serving the second spouse with copies of the Complaint and Summons filed with the court.

In Tennessee, service of process can be accomplished either by the deputy sheriff or any adult person who is not a party to the case or by mail. Anyway, the court must get proof of service. The plaintiff must provide the relevant Affidavit of Service (if the papers have been delivered to the second party by someone other than the deputy sheriff) and the return receipt if the process is served by mail.

Once the petition is filed along with the marital dissolution agreement and other forms, Tennessee laws require a waiting period, which is mandatory even in uncontested divorce cases. The final court hearing date cannot be scheduled until 60 days (90 days - if the spouses have minor children) after applying for a divorce.

How much does it cost to get an uncontested divorce in Tennessee?

The cost of any dissolution of marriage in Tennessee, whether contested or uncontested, starts with the court filing fee. This fee may be up to $380 depending on the county and if the spouses have minor children.

Other costs mainly depend on the type of divorce and the pricing of any legal aid and service the parties use to manage the divorce process.

A do-it-yourself divorce without a lawyer may be considered the most affordable way to get a divorce, even though it does not suit everyone. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses could also use OnlineDivorce.com for drafting the paperwork, resort to mediation or counseling, developing a mutual settlement agreement, etc. In general, they have broad discretion to manage their costs, arranging the divorce process in Tennessee.

How long do you have to live in Tennessee to file for divorce?

Like other US states, the State of Tennessee requires that the spouses willing to terminate the marriage meet the specific residency requirements before filing for divorce.

According to the Tennessee Code, to get a divorce within the state, either of the spouses must have been a resident of Tennessee for six months before filing for divorce, given that the ground for divorce occurred out of state.

If the ground for divorce occurred while the plaintiff was a resident of the state, the Tennessee Code does not provide specific residency requirements.

How long do you have to respond to divorce papers in Tennessee?

According to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, once receiving the copies of Complaint and Summons, the defendant has to respond to the papers within thirty days after the service.

The defendant must reasonably respond to each provision in the Complaint and file an Answer with the Court Clerk. If the defendant fails to respond on time, the court may enter a judgment by default.

How do you get a free divorce in Tennessee?

Even though an uncontested divorce in Tennessee can be relatively affordable, a completely free divorce is, in theory, available only if, along with signing a marital dissolution agreement, the plaintiff qualifies for reducing court costs due to financial hardship.

Thus, if the plaintiff cannot afford to pay the filing fee, he or she may submit to the Court Clerk the Request to Postpone Filing Fees. Also, one can file an Affidavit of Indigency. If the court approves it after evaluating the plaintiff's financial information, it will allow the plaintiff to file a case on a pauper's oath, and the court fees can be waived.

What papers do I need to file for a divorce in Tennessee?

The required divorce forms for an uncontested dissolution case in Tennessee typically include but are not limited to:

  • Civil Case Cover Sheet
  • Complaint for Divorce
  • Amendment
  • Summons
  • Affidavit of Service
  • Marital Dissolution Agreement
  • Final Decree
  • Divorce Certificate
  • Financial Declaration

If the spouses have minor children, they also have to file a Permanent Parenting Plan, Temporary Parenting Plan, Parenting Class Certificate.

Here is how OnlineDivorce.com makes completing divorce papers easier:

  • We provide the full divorce packet required by the local court - clients do not need to drive to their local courthouse to get the blank forms or search for the right divorce forms online. In rare cases, local county forms can vary in color, paper material, size, or bar code, so they may need to be obtained directly from the county clerk's office.
  • We complete the necessary forms for clients based on their answers given in a simple guided online interview - clients do not need to understand family law or read through complicated instructions to figure out how to fill out the forms themselves.
  • We give detailed, easy to follow step-by-step instructions for filing a divorce with the court - so the client knows exactly what to do to get his/her divorce finalized.
  • We provide unlimited technical support - if a client needs assistance through the online process, he/she can always reach out to us via phone, email, or live chat, and we'll do our best to help.
  • We save our clients time and money - if divorcing spouses agree regarding the terms of their divorce, they typically don’t have to pay thousands to a lawyer to handle their divorce forms and don't need to spend hours trying to do it all by themselves.
  • We guarantee 100% court approval on divorce papers prepared through our website or your money back - we have 21 years of experience in completing divorce forms so clients can be sure the court will accept their documents without issues.

OnlineDivorce ensures excellent quality of service at a reasonable price. There is no need to spend a fortune going down the traditional attorney-assisted route when your divorce is uncontested.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Heather W.