The decision to get a divorce is not one that anyone arrives at lightly. You have probably spent a great deal of time and gone through a lot of stress arriving at this point. But now that you are here, you are ready to move forward as quickly as possible. Fortunately, as long as you and your spouse agree on the need to divorce and meet the requirements for an “agreed divorce” or an “uncontested divorce”, Tennessee makes the divorce process straightforward. You may even qualify to do the divorce yourself without a lawyer. In this case, you simply need to fill out the appropriate divorce papers for Tennessee and submit them to your county clerk to begin the process.
If you are not at the point where you and your spouse can come to an agreement on divorce issues, you may be able to work things out through divorce mediation. If mediation is not sufficient to work through agreement challenges you may consider hiring a divorce attorney.
Once you meet the standards for an agreed divorce or uncontested divorce, you can move forward quickly to end the marriage. The following information will help you understand the basics of divorce in Tennessee, and how you can get started on your own divorce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Tennessee in 2011 was 4.3 for every 1,000 residents. This rate places the state in the middle for U.S. divorce rates. Tennessee allows you to represent yourself and complete your own divorce documents in two different scenarios – when you are seeking what is referred to as an “agreed divorce”, and when you are seeking an “uncontested divorce”.
To seek an agreed divorce, you have to meet several criteria, including:
You both agree on ending the marriage
Either you or your spouse have lived in the state for six months, or you both decided you needed to divorce while living in the state
You do not own any major assets together, including land, buildings, a business or share retirement benefits
You have no minor children together, or any children that are disabled or still attending high school
Your wife is not currently pregnant
You both agree on how your property will be divided and on alimony issues
An uncontested divorce is similar to an agreed divorce, but you are allowed to have children and own property together. However, you both must still agree to all the divorce terms, including property division, child custody and child support, if you are seeking an uncontested divorce.
If you do not meet all of these requirements it is advisable that you seek legal representation. Unfortunately, the court cannot give you legal advice – only a lawyer can.
The Tennessee Courts website offers a wide range of divorce forms and documents that you can download and complete. It also has a document titled “How to Get an Agreed Divorce in Tennessee” that further explains how to seek an agreed divorce, including the criteria you must meet and how to go through the process.
If you are seeking an uncontested divorce, you will need to determine which documents pertain to your situation on the Tennessee Courts website. Which documents you fill out will depend on your individual circumstances, but there are some documents that are standard for all divorces in the state. These include the “Request for Divorce”, “Spouses' Personal Information”, “Final Decree of Divorce” and “Court Order for Divorcing Spouses”. You and your spouse will also need to complete a “Divorce Agreement”, where you detail how you will deal with dividing your property.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed when scanning through all of these documents. There are a lot of different forms, and there are a number of legal terms that you may not be familiar with. This is why many people choose to get their Tennessee divorce papers online from CompleteCase.com. Our divorce form preparation service identifies the right forms for your situation, and helps you make sure that those forms are filled out correctly. This kind of support can decrease the chance of making mistakes and causing costly delays in the divorce process.
You will need to take your completed divorce papers, along with two copies of each document, to the county clerk to file. One copy will be for your records, while the other will be what you serve to your spouse. You will need to pay a state filing fee, unless you request to have it waived, and the clerk will give you a case number.
Another divorce form that you will need to complete is the “Divorce Certificate”, but how this is handled will vary by county. You will need to ask the clerk about the Divorce Certificate and he or she will give you instructions on when and how you will file it.
In a standard divorce, the court requires you to serve a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse after you have filed the initial paperwork. By “serving” the papers, you are giving your spouse a chance to respond to the claims you have made to the court. Usually, you hire a sheriff's deputy or private process server to serve your spouse.
However, if you and your spouse have completed all of the paperwork for an agreed or uncontested divorce, you will not need to serve your spouse. He or she will have already signed the Divorce Agreement, which demonstrates that you are both in agreement about the divorce and its terms.
You will want to wait for 60 days before contacting the clerk to ask about a Final Divorce Hearing. At the hearing you will verify the information on your documents and the court will finalize the divorce. It is best if you and your spouse go to the hearing, but you can go alone if necessary.
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By Deborah Sharp, USA TODAY
Couples can find a mate, fill out a bridal registry and plan a honeymoon on the computer. Now they can also divorce online.
A Web site started last year by a Seattle attorney gives the unhappily wed in Washington, California, Florida and New York the option of dissolving their marriages online. Texas is next, and several other states are being considered.
The site is the latest twist in a do-it-yourself trend. Changing trends in the USA Average age of first marriage Divorce year male female Divorced Americans Divorces granted 1970 23.2 20.8 4.3 million 0.7 million 2000 26.8 25.1 19.9 million 1.2 million Sources: U.S. Census; National Center for Health Statistics
No national figures exist on self-representation. But some experts estimate that as many as half of 1.2 million couples divorcing annually in the USA do so without a lawyer representing at least one of the parties.
The Web site, www.completecase.com, differs from the many self-help sites offering advice, referrals or downloads of documents needed to file for divorce in a particular state.
For $249, the Web site prompts couples with questions on everything from dividing financial assets to deciding where the kids celebrate birthdays. The software then uses their answers to fill out the documents that a couple can download and submit to a court.
Requirements vary by locale as to whether a couple must show up in court or can mail in or fax their divorce filing. But in all cases, a judge must still sign the order ending a marriage.
Randy Finney, a family law attorney for 11 years and the founder of the Web site, says it was designed for uncontested divorces. It's not for couples with convoluted finances or for those fighting over child custody and who gets the dog.
"The decision to get a divorce comes way before the decision about how to get a divorce," says Finney, 35, who is happily married. "I don't think anyone takes their wedding vows so frivolously that they're going to get a divorce just because they can do it for $249."
Not everyone is thrilled with the notion of cyber-divorce.
Judges and lawyers fret that couples who use the Web site may believe they've had legal counsel when they haven't. And leaders in the movement to save marriages complain that point-and-click divorce further undermines the institution's supposed sanctity.
"I can only think of one use of the Internet that's worse and that's pornography," says Dennis Rainey, executive director of FamilyLife, a religious group based in Little Rock. "We're trying to do all we can to call people to keep their wedding vows."
FamilyLife has joined with 30 other organizations since 1999 in drawing 175,000 spouses nationwide to "I Still Do" ceremonies that affirm marriage.
Despite the marriage celebrations, about one-fifth of American men and women have been divorced at least once.
A study released last month by the U.S. Census shows about 90% of Americans will marry at some point. For men, 54% married just once. For women, 60%. Serial marriage is rare: Only 3% of Americans have married three times or more; 13% have married twice.
Finney estimates his Web site has helped 1,000 couples unhitch. Stacey Kiss of Seattle is among those who traveled to virtual Splitsville. The self-described "Internet junkie" says it took her and her husband of seven years about three hours one night to click through the Web site's detailed questions.
"We never got along on anything through our entire marriage, but we still managed to come to an agreement," says Kiss, 36, a hospital business-services manager. "Why drag it out and make it complicated?"
She says the online split was cheaper and easier than her first, traditional divorce. Now single, Kiss says she's comfortable with dot-com divorce, but she draws the line at cyber-dating.
"I like surfing the Web," she says, "but not for men."
Ernesto Gomez and his wife Blanca had been planning to get a divorce for three years. They had already separated and worked out custody and child support for their two kids. But they had stalled on filing because they didn't want to deal with the hassle and expense. Hiring a lawyer, they were told, would cost at least $1,500. Using a free service offered by the court would involve numerous meetings spread out over several weeks.
So when Gomez heard an ad on the radio for a service called completecase.com that would let him fill out the paperwork online for just $249, he decided to give it a try. Four days after he logged onto the site, he had the papers completed and filed in court. "CompleteCase gives you step-by-step instructions. You can't miss anything," says Gomez, a distribution-center manager in Miami.
Gomez is not the only one turning to the Internet to simplify the process. Other services, like divorcewizards. com and divorcesyourself.com also offer quickie online divorce kits, usually for $300 or less. No lawyer is involved unless a client chooses to pay extra for a consultation by phone or e-mail.
Brian Lee, president of legalzoom.com says his site has handled more than 30,000 divorces since its launch in 2001. Though people still have to convey their forms to the court, the process of filling out the paperwork can take less than an hour, thanks to simple online questionnaires that hand-hold customers through the process.
Online divorce is not an option if the couple can't agree on the terms. Even when they can, not everyone thinks it's a good idea. "Instant divorce is the last thing we need," says Mike McManus, president of the marriage advocacy group Marriage Savers. Instead of a divorce, McManus says, couples often just need time to cool off before working out their differences.
Still, such services are spreading. Utah and California offer do-it-yourself sites that let you fill the forms out online (for $20 at utcourts.gov/how to; free at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp) Traffic on the California site rose from 6,800 page views in May 2002 to nearly 17,000 in May 2003. --By Anita Hamilton
The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Nov 19, 2001; MARTIN MILLER;
Abstract: Californians can legally split from their spouses over the Web site http://www.completecase.com and never have to set foot in a courthouse or lawyer's office. Legal papers can be completed within anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the complexity of the split, according to Randolph Finney, a Seattle-based family law attorney who founded the site.
For Californians, once the judge signs the documents, they are "legally binding and enforceable," says Finney, but per state law the divorce doesn't become finalized for six months.
Full Text: (Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times 2001 All rights reserved)
The circle of online life is now complete. You can date online; you can marry online; and now you can divorce online.
Californians can legally split from their spouses over the Web site http://www.completecase.com and never have to set foot in a courthouse or lawyer's office. Legal papers can be completed within anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the complexity of the split, according to Randolph Finney, a Seattle-based family law attorney who founded the site.
For a flat fee of $249, the site walks divorcing couples step-by- step through such issues as community property and calculating child support payments. When the online form is completed, the applicant simply signs the papers and mails them to the courthouse.
But it's not for everyone. It works only for those couples who are parting amicably and filing for an uncontested divorce. "If you can't agree on who gets the kids, our site is not for you," says Finney, a married 35-year-old.
The site debuted earlier this year, but only to residents of Washington state. Last month, California was added, and soon Florida, New York and Oregon are expected to be added. So far, the site has helped process hundreds of divorces, says Finney.
The site has drawn critics who denounce the online divorce as yet another blow to society's bedrock institutions. The very ease of the process, some contend, makes family and marriage as disposable as an old appliance. Indeed, a similar site in England was recently condemned by the pope as immoral because it made divorce too easy.
Naturally, Finney disagrees. "I think our Web site has the opposite effect," he said. "If you're going to get divorced, let's do it in a civil manner. I really don't believe having something available that makes it easier and costs less money is going to encourage divorce."
The inspiration for the project came from his law practice, where he primarily handles divorces. It took about a year to get the site up and running. "On almost a daily basis, I would get clients who said they needed a divorce but didn't have the money or the patience with the legal process to pursue it," he said. "These people are really stuck between a rock and a hard place."
For Californians, once the judge signs the documents, they are "legally binding and enforceable," says Finney, but per state law the divorce doesn't become finalized for six months. "It isn't quite as fast as a Las Vegas divorce," he says.
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When completing the online questionnaire, help and explanations are provided for each question. Should you have any questions during the process, you may call our support line to speak with a divorce specialist.
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Based on the information provided you are not qualified to use CompleteCase.com to complete your divorce online at this time.
We recommend contacting a licensed Family Law attorney to help you with your situation.