What You Need to Know about a Tennessee Divorce

Going through a divorce is emotionally and financially challenging. For many people it is their first experience with the legal system. Just trying to navigate that system can be a challenge in and of itself. In an effort to make the divorce process a little less intimidating, a Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains what you need to know about the divorce process in Tennessee.

Tennessee Divorce Filing Requirements

  • To file for divorce in Tennessee, either the plaintiff or the defendant must have resided in Tennessee for six months preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. 
  • There is no waiting period in Tennessee. If you meet the residency requirements, you can file for divorce at any time in Tennessee. 
  • You must choose the grounds on which you are requesting a divorce. Tennessee now allows both no-fault and fault divorces. If you use one of the fault grounds you must prove those grounds during the course of the divorce. The no-fault option alleges that you have “irreconcilable differences” that prevent the marriage from continuing. In addition, the fault grounds in Tennessee include: 
    • Adultery
    • Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs 
    • Living apart for two years with no minor children 
    • Inappropriate marital conduct 
    • Willful or malicious desertion for one full year without a reasonable cause 
    • Conviction of a felony 
    • Pregnancy of the wife by another before the marriage without the husband’s knowledge 
    • Refusal to move to Tennessee with your spouse and living apart for two years
    • Malicious attempt upon the life of another 
    • Lack of reconciliation for two years after the entry of a decree of separate maintenance
    • Impotence and sterility
    • Bigamy
    • Abandonment or refusal or neglecting to provide for spouse although able to do so. 

The Divorce Process in Tennessee

  • If you have minor children, your divorce will likely take longer to complete. Tennessee law dictates that a divorce cannot be finalized for at least 90 days after the Complaint for Divorce is filed if it involves minor children. In addition, divorces involving minor children are often more complex and contentious.  If you do not have minor children there is no required waiting period before the divorce can be finalized; however, the length of time it takes to complete the divorce will depend, to a great degree, on how adversarial it is. 
  • Despite popular belief, your spouse does not have to agree to a divorce. If your spouse does not agree, however, you may be forced to use one of the allowable fault grounds to get the divorce granted. 
  • If there are minor children of the marriage, you will need to resolve all issues related to the children before the divorce can be finalized. This typically includes deciding who will be the Primary Residential Parent (PRP), how parenting time will be scheduled, and how much child support must be paid from one parent to the other. A Parenting Plan that addresses all those issues must be submitted to the court and approved by the judge. 
  • Under certain circumstances, you may be entitled to alimony (spousal support) in Tennessee. The court will consider a long list of factors in determining if you are entitled to spousal support. If you are awarded spousal support the court will decide which type, how much, and for how long.
  • Only one party will need to appear for the final hearing if you reach an agreed settlement that covers all issues. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, you will need to appear in court.
  •  You are not legally required to hire an attorney for a divorce; however, if your divorce involves minor children, complex and/or valuable assets, spousal support, or is likely to be contested you should retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney

If you are contemplating divorce in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce process. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael