Uncontested Divorce in Tennessee
Making sense of the uncontested divorce process in Tennessee.
Although divorce can be overwhelming, uncontested divorces are often less devastating to your emotions and finances than are contested ones. While certain divorces devolve into bad soap operas, yours doesn't have to. Instead, Tennessee’s uncontested divorce process allows spouses to reach their own agreement and avoid the stress and expense associated with a court trial. The uncontested divorce process is often relatively fast, and much less expensive than a contested divorce.
This article provides a general overview of the uncontested divorce process in Tennessee. If after reading this article, you still have questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Overview of Uncontested Divorces in Tennessee
Uncontested divorces are an option available to divorcing Tennessee couples that do have children together. Additionally, Tennessee requires that spouses seeking an uncontested divorce do not own a business or property with their spouse and do not have retirement benefits to divide. Uncontested divorces are often referred to as agreed or simplified divorces because the spouses have agreed on all terms, there are fewer forms to complete and the filing fees are less than a traditional divorce. However, you and your spouse must meet all the following criteria to qualify for an uncontested divorce in Tennessee:
- you or your spouse have lived in Tennessee for at least the past 6 months
- you and your spouse have no minor children together
- you and your spouse both want to end your marriage
- you and your spouse do not own a business or property together and do not have retirement benefits to divide, and
- you and your spouse have agreed on all issues in your divorce including alimony and division of personal items.
However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on any issue in your divorce or if any of the above criteria do not fit your case, then you do not qualify for an uncontested divorce.
Beginning the Uncontested Divorce Process in Tennessee
If you meet the all above criteria, you may proceed with your uncontested divorce by filing the required forms set forth below. Additionally, the Tennessee Courts publish an informative packet with instructions on How to Get an Agreed Divorce for spouses trying to complete the divorce process on their own.
If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for filing the right documents in the right court. Tennessee’s circuit courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Tennessee’s 95 counties are divided into 31 judicial districts and at least one circuit court is within each judicial district. Where you live will determine where you file for divorce because in most cases, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county in which you reside. If you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Tennessee, either the county in which you live, or where your spouse lives is likely is proper to file your paperwork.
Preparing Divorce Forms
The Tennessee Courts site offers online forms for completing an uncontested divorce available here or in hard copy at your local courthouse. The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
- Petition for Divorce
- Spouse’s Personal Information
- Health Insurance Notice
- Divorce Agreement
- Final Decree of Divorce, and
- Notice of Hearing.
Completing Your Divorce
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Tennessee may vary in your particular county, and thus, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. It’s best to check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms.
An uncontested, no-fault divorce in Tennessee takes a minimum of 60 days from start to finish. For couples with children, the mandatory waiting period to divorce is a minimum of 90 days from the date the Petition for Divorce is filed. However, the time it takes to finalize your divorce will depend on how long before your Final Divorce Hearing is scheduled. Both spouses should attend the final divorce hearing and if all your paperwork is filed correctly and the Decree of Divorce is reasonable, then the judge will sign your Decree. Your divorce becomes final when the judge signs your Decree of Divorce, which may or may not be the date of your Final Divorce Hearing.
If you have additional questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce in Tennessee, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance. For more information on uncontested divorces in Tennessee and to read the complete statute, see Tennessee Code, Title 36, Chapter 4.