Online 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.
Valid grounds to get divorce in Tennessee
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.
Property division in Tennessee
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.
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.
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
- 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.