The prospect of going through divorce proceedings can be more than a little overwhelming. Knowing what to expect as you make your way through the Tennessee divorce process can help put worries to rest and prepare you for court. Tennessee divorces take an average of two to six months to complete once the mandatory post-filing cooling-off period comes to an end.
To file for divorce in Tennessee, you and/or your spouse must normally have a six-month history of living in the state. In cases where abuse has occurred or if there is another emergency, the court may decide to allow you to file sooner, without the six-month residency requirement.
After filling out and filing divorce papers on your own or with the help of an attorney, a process server or sheriff will serve your spouse if you are not comfortable serving divorce papers on your own. Alternately, you may send copies of your Tennessee divorce papers to your spouse’s residence via certified mail, or the court may allow you to publish a notice in a newspaper in the area where your spouse lives.
The cost of having divorce papers served is generally under $75 however it may be as much as $100 or more depending on the method you use.
Tennessee is unique, as it allows divorce on your choice of fault or no-fault grounds. As in many other states, the grounds for no-fault divorce may be irreconcilable differences or, if you have no children, living separate and apart for at least two years.
Fault grounds for divorce include the following.
After filing for divorce, a mandatory cooling-off period goes into effect. Couples who have no children must wait 60 days to proceed with the division of property, and those with children must wait 90 days to move forward with their cases. Mutual consent, no-fault divorces take the least time to finalize after the cooling-off period ends, usually between two and six months. All others take longer depending on extenuating circumstances such as the division of property, division of a pension, or issues surrounding child custody and/or visitation.
If you and your spouse agree on all aspects of the divorce and there is no fault, you may find that proceedings are simple to complete without help from a lawyer. The state provides Tennessee divorce forms on its website, which may help you decide whether to proceed without legal assistance or to obtain help with complicated issues by at least consulting with a lawyer or seeking help from a mediator.
Since Tennessee courts usually distribute marital property and debt equitably (fairly, but not always equally), you may want to seek assistance from a lawyer if you have mitigating circumstances, or if you have any concerns about property division or child custody. Additionally, the more assets and/or debt you have, the more important it is to seek legal counsel.
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Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. Consult with an attorney for more information regarding your individual situation.
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