Making the decision to file for divorce is hard. However, if you feel your marriage is beyond repair, our team of attorneys are here to assist you in the divorce process. If divorce is the right choice for you, below is an overview of how to get a divorce in Tennessee.
In order for a couple to obtain a divorce in Tennessee, you must meet certain requirements. Tennessee law requires one of the parties to be a resident of the state for at least six months.
You must also state your grounds for divorce. In Tennessee, you must state and prove one or more of the following:
• Impotence and inability to procreate since the time of the marriage,
• Cruel and Inhuman Treatment/Inappropriate Marital Conduct;
• Desertion without cause for one year,
• Conviction of an infamous crime or felony,
• Attempted the life of the other by poison or other means,
• Refusal to move to Tennessee without cause for two years,
• Wife was pregnant at the time of marriage by another person without her husband’s knowledge,
• Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotics (if began after the marriage),
• Indignities to the spouse’s person,
• Abandonment and refusal to provide for spouse, and
• Separation for two years if there are no minor children.
If, however, both spouses are in agreement as to all terms of the divorce including the divisions of assets, debts and child custody, if applicable, then the parties may proceed under the grounds of irreconcilable differences. This is called an uncontested divorce. Typically, an uncontested divorce saves both parties time and legal fees.
THE INITIAL PROCEEDINGS
After you have met the requirements to obtain a divorce in Tennessee, the initial step is to file a Complaint for Divorce. The Complaint must contain specific language or it can be dismissed. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney will provide you with a less stressful experience.
Once the Complaint has been filed, your spouse will need to be served with a copy of the Complaint. If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse, you will still need to attempt service, and later on, motion the court for service through publication. After your spouse has been served, he/she has 30 days to file an Answer to the Complaint. A court will not grant a divorce prior to the expiration of the 30 days, regardless of the situation.
If your spouse does not file an Answer, you may motion the court for a default judgment. If the parties agree on the terms of the divorce, they may execute a Marital Dissolution Agreement and Parenting Plan, if applicable, and set the matter for a final hearing. If, however, an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will ultimately decide on the division of marital assets, debts, and custody in a trial.
CONSIDERATIONS IN A TRIAL
If your case is set for trial, having an experienced attorney at your side is invaluable. At trial, the judge will hear all the evidence, testimony from both spouses and any witnesses. When dividing marital assets and debts, the court considers numerous factors, but is ultimately charged to divide the assets and debts equitably, not equally. The court does not consider marital fault in making such a division.
Alimony may be an issue in the divorce proceedings. A court will again look at numerous factors before making an award for alimony. Unlike the division of debts and assets, a court may consider marital fault when making such an award.
If a couple has children, a court will consider many factors when making a determination of custody and visitation. Ultimately, a judge must determine what is in the best interest of the child. Child support generally cannot deviate from Tennessee’s Child Support Guidelines, but can in certain situations to either lower or raise a child support obligation.