A brief guide to divorce in Tennessee
Spouses who are considering temporary or permanent separation in Tennessee should be aware of the following things:
Tennessee state divorce laws
To file for divorce in Tennessee, a plaintiff must have been a resident of the state for at least six months.
Grounds for divorce
Aside from no fault divorces, the following charges can lead to a petition for an at-fault divorce:
• Refusing to move to Tennessee with a spouse
• Cruelty or endangerment
• Addiction to drugs or alcohol
• Conviction of a serious crime
• Wife pregnant at time of marriage with another man’s child without spouse’s knowledge
• Desertion or abandonment
Couples who are not sure if they wish to file for divorce in Tennessee but want to live apart can file for a legal separation. This legally enforceable agreement will detail the division of property, child custody and visitation and similar issues.
Types of divorce
If both parties agree to a divorce in Tennessee as well as the terms of their separation, their case will be handled as an uncontested divorce. In cases where one spouse does not consent to the separation or an unresolvable disagreement exists, a judge will issue a resolution for this contested divorce.
No fault divorce
Couples wishing to file for no-fault divorce in Tennessee can plead irreconcilable differences. No wrongdoing on either spouse’s fault is required to have this kind of divorce approved. Couples who have lived apart for two years or longer can file for no fault divorce if no children are involved. There will be a sixty day waiting period before the divorce is granted.
Steps in the divorce process
To file for divorce in Tennessee, a plaintiff must file a complaint with the local family court. The defendant will then be served a formal notice of the petition for divorce, normally by a sheriff, process server or certified mail. If both parties can agree on the terms of separation during the waiting period, they will not have to go court. If court-supervised mediation fails to come up with a mutually acceptable plan, a judge will rule upon issues of alimony, child support and other related disputes.
Judges can award alimony on an either permanent or temporary alimony based on many factors, including:
• the length of the marriage and standard of living established during that time
• both spouses’ marital conduct
• how employable the spouse requesting alimony is
• any issue the judge deems relevant to his or her decision
Judges have similarly wide discretion when deciding on a child support payment plan, taking into account among other things:
• the child’s needs
• whether the non-custodial parent has less than 55 visitation days a year or over 110
• pensions and retirement benefits plans
Fathers’ and mothers’ rights
Gender is not taken into account by judges when awarding child custody. Any child of sufficient maturity over age 12 will have their wishes considered.