How Do I File for Divorce in Tennessee

Here are the basic forms you'll need to file and steps you'll need to take to start the divorce process in Tennessee.

If you meet certain requirements, you and your spouse may get an “agreed divorce.” You can get this type of divorce without the assistance of a lawyer. The requirements are:

  • you or your spouse lived in Tennessee for at least the past six months, or you lived in Tennessee when you decided to divorce
  • you and your spouse have no children together who are under 18, disabled, or still in high school
  • the wife is not pregnant now
  • you both want to end your marriage
  • you don’t co-own any buildings, land, a business, or retirement benefits, and
  • you agree on alimony and how to divide your property, and both will sign a “Divorce Agreement” (contract which settles all of your divorce issues).

If you meet all of the above requirements, then you must follow the steps below to fill out the forms for an “agreed divorce.”

If you do not meet all of the requirements or you have questions about your case, you need to talk to a lawyer. The court is not allowed to answer questions about your particular case or your legal rights.

Preparing Your Forms

You must first fill out the following forms:

All of the forms will have blanks for “plaintiff” and “defendant.” The person asking the court for a divorce is the “plaintiff,” and the responding spouse is called the “defendant.” Some of the forms must be signed while you and/or your spouse are in front of a Notary Public. Do not sign the forms that require notarization until the person(s) required to sign are in front of a Notary Public.

After completing all the forms, make at least two copies of everything. The court will keep one, you will want one for your records, and you will need a copy for your spouse.

Filing Your Forms

Filing your forms means taking them, along with at least two copies, to the “clerk of court” You may take them to the clerk’s office in the county where you and your spouse live, the county where your spouse lives now, or the county where you lived when you were separated.

You and your spouse must decide how to split the cost of filing for divorce. If you are unable to pay the fee required to file the papers, then you may file a Request to Postpone Filing Fees and Order. If your request is approved, you will not have to pay filing fees at the time of filing, but you may be required to pay them at the end of your case.

You must also ask the clerk of court for a “Divorce Certificate.” There is a deadline for this form: ask the clerk for more information about the Divorce Certificate.

Finally, the clerk will give you a case number when you file. This number must be written on all your divorce forms.

Final Divorce Hearing

You must wait at least 60 days after filing your Request for Divorce before you can schedule your divorce hearing. However, if you wait more than 180 days after the last person signed the Divorce Agreement form, you will need to file a new form.

Soon after the 60 days has passed, you must call the clerk to find out how to schedule the Final Divorce Hearing. The clerk may have an additional form for you to complete to set the hearing date. If needed, you should also fill out a Notice of Hearing to Approve Irreconcilable Differences Divorce and mail a copy to your spouse.

You must appear in court on your scheduled date and time, and bring copies of all your papers. It is best if both spouses go to the divorce hearing in case there are mistakes on the forms. However, only the filing spouse’s appearance is required.

At the hearing, you will answer the judge’s questions about your marriage, separation, and other items on your forms. If the judge approves your divorce, and your spouse was not at the hearing, you will have to mail him or her a copy of the Divorce Order.

It is also important to remember that after the Final Divorce Order is issued, each spouse has 30 days to appeal the order. This means that you must wait to get married or buy property until the 30 days has passed.

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