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.