Uncontested Divorce in Tennessee
The length and complexity of the divorce process in this state mainly depend on whether spouses manage to come to an amicable agreement regarding the dissolution of marriage. Thus, a divorcing couple can apply for either contested or uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce occurs when the partners have ongoing disagreements on significant issues, such as spousal support, property division, and child custody. Considering that people have to obtain discovery, file subpoenas, and perform other lengthy legal procedures during a contested divorce, this process takes a lot of time and money.
- If there is no dispute between parties, divorce can be finalized way faster and more affordably. Uncontested divorce works well for situations where the partners can calmly settle the issues at hand.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
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In a matter of two business days, our customers receive a full package of divorce forms, along with written instructions on how to file. Thus, using DivorceOnline services is a perfect alternative to hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce, as it makes preparing divorce papers way cheaper and faster.
Presently, Tennessee courts may require its residents to submit forms, such as:
- Civil Case Cover Sheet, Form 10
- Complaint for Divorce, Form 100
- Summons, Form 40
- Marital Dissolution Agreement, Form 400
- Permanent Parenting Plan, Form 145
- Parenting Class Certificate
- Final Decree, Forms 410, 411 or 412
- Divorce Certificate, Form PH1682
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Tennessee
To be eligible to file for dissolution of marriage in Tennessee, divorcing spouses should follow several significant steps.
- At least one of the parties must have been a legal resident of the state for no less than six months before the divorce case started.
- The couple is required to file for a divorce in the county where one of the spouses resides.
Unlike many other states, Tennessee offers its residents the opportunity to divorce based on no-fault and fault-based grounds.
In the context of no-fault grounds for divorce, it is enough to state "irreconcilable differences" as the leading cause of marriage failure. Besides, spouses can apply for a no-fault divorce if both parties have lived apart for at least two years, have not cohabited as husband and wife during such period, and there are no minor children of the parties.
In Tennessee, fault-based grounds include but are not limited to:
- Desertion without reasonable cause for one whole year
- Criminal conviction
- Refusal to remove with the complainant spouse to this state, and the defendant spouse's willful absence for two years without reasonable cause;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Alcohol or drug abuse
To initiate the filing procedure, the plaintiff (the person initiating the divorce) should file completed Tennessee divorce forms with the court clerk at the chancery or circuit court in the county where one of the spouses lives.
Divorce papers in Tennessee
The required divorce forms typically differ from case to case, which depends on personal circumstances and the county where paperwork is filed. However, the majority of divorcing couples have to submit the following documents to initiate the divorce in the state:
- Request/Complaint for Divorce
- Spouse's Personal Information
- Health Insurance Notice
- Divorce Agreement
It is important to make at least two copies of each document, as the plaintiff will need to keep one for their record, one for the court, and the last one for serving the other spouse.
No matter what type of divorce the couple is going through, they will still be charged a filing fee to initiate the marriage termination process. In Tennessee, this payment may range from $205 to about $280, depending on the county. Once the plaintiff releases this payment, the clerk assigns the case a case number officially initiating the divorce process.
Under Tennessee law, the minimum time required to grant a divorce is 60 days, although this period can be prolonged to 90 days if spouses have minor children.
In Tennessee, this task can be carried out by anyone 18 years or older (except for the plaintiff). For example, a sheriff, a private process server, or an adult family member or friend can serve divorce papers on the defendant.
The plaintiff can also serve Tennessee divorce papers to the defendant with the help of certified mail if the responding party (or their attorney) is willing to sign a Waiver of Service of Process to acknowledge that they received documents.
To finalize an uncontested divorce, both spouses should attend a final divorce hearing. If the presented divorce agreement is approved, the judge will sign it, and the divorce will be final.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In addition to the list of basic Tennessee divorce forms, couples with minor children should also submit:
- Parenting Plan Form
- Child Support Worksheet
Even though child custody laws are very similar throughout the whole country, each state has its own requirements in this area of family law. For example, when it comes to Tennessee, both parents can expect to share physical and legal custody unless one of them willfully abandons the minor child for at least one and a half years.
In terms of primary and alternative residential parents, their rights are not limited in the context of day-to-day care. The parent is not required to live with their children the majority of time to make major decisions in their lives. Still, the determination of a primary residential parent is crucial, as this person will be living with the child more than 50 percent of the time.
Thus, Tennessee courts can award child custody to either party or to both parties in joint custody or shared parenting. If the parents come up with an acceptable custody agreement together, that Parenting Plan will be given high priority by the court. Anyway, when determining child custody, the judge acts in children's best interests considering a variety of factors, such as:
- child's age and personal preferences (if they are 12-years old or more)
- child's home and community involvement
- relationships that exist between the child and each parent
- financial stability of each parent
- healthcare status of each parent
- evidence of any type of abuse occurring in the family
According to Tennessee child support laws, both parents are equally and jointly responsible for supporting their children financially until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Hence, following the state-ordered Child Support Guidelines, after reviewing both parents' earnings and income from all sources, the judge will decide the amount of money each parent should spend on their child per month.
Filing for Divorce in Tennessee Without a Lawyer
Considering that an uncontested divorce can be processed with limited legal advice or without an attorney at all, many Tennessee residents file for divorce without legal assistance. Instead, they may save time and money by preparing their uncontested divorce forms online and resort to divorce mediation if they need assistance with issues relating to the Parenting Plan or Divorce Agreement. A neutral mediator can help parties negotiate and reach an agreement on the final terms of their divorce, such as child custody and support, alimony, and property division, out of court.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Tennessee
A DIY divorce is one of the most common ways to end the marriage in Tennessee, as it helps save a vast amount of time and money.
For example, to prepare uncontested divorce documents with the help of an attorney, people need to spend several thousand dollars and at least 1-2 weeks of their time. In contrast, by using online divorce services, such as DivorceOnline, spouses only need $139 and two business days to fill out and download completed divorce papers during a DIY divorce.
Thus, DivorceOnline assists clients going through a DIY divorce route to prepare appropriate documents to make the marriage dissolution process less complicated.
Frequently Asked Questions:
An uncontested divorce takes about two to six months in the state, depending on whether there are children. At the same time, a contested divorce can take over a year. Therefore, people seeking a fast way to terminate their marriage should consider an uncontested divorce in the first place.
In addition to mandatory filing fees ranging from $205 to about $280, Tennessee residents typically spend money on online divorce companies, such as DivorceOnline, to complete divorce forms ($139) or attorneys who usually charge $200-300 per hour for their services. Thus, the final price will be unique for each couple.
If spouses can not afford to pay filing fees, they can ask the county clerk to complete and sign Request to Postpone Filing Fees and Order. If the judge believes that paying filing fees is an extreme financial hardship for this couple, the payment will be waived.
Each case is unique, so required Tennessee divorce papers may differ from case to case. However, all couples seeking divorce in Tennessee should be prepared to submit all the documents listed below:
- Complaint for Divorce
- Spouses' Personal Information Form
- Health Insurance Notice
- Divorce Agreement
- Parenting Plan Form
- Child Support Worksheet
- Final Decree of Divorce
- Divorce Certificate
Keep in mind that the list of papers provided above can be extended, which depends on the personal circumstances of each couple.