TENNESSEE DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Tennessee. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during, and after your Tennessee divorce.|
- Time Frame: The minimum statutory waiting period for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences is 60 days after filing where there are no minor unmarried children and 90 days after filing when there are unmarried, minor children. There is no statutory minimum waiting period when fault grounds are used; a mutual-consent, no-fault divorce typically takes from two to six months.
- Where to File: Circuit Court or Chancery Court. "In the ___________ Court of _____________ County, Tennessee. (See Tennessee Court Addresses)
- Statute Statutes: Tennessee Code Annotated; Volume 6A, Title 36.
- Name of Action: Petition for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Petitioner, who is the filing spouse, and respondent, the other spouse.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both no-fault and fault.
- Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Divorce and Final Decree of Divorce. (See TN Forms List With Explanations)
- Physical Separation Required: Irreconcilable differences with a signed agreement does not require a separation period.
- Separation Time to File: See no-fault.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Yes. The grounds for a separation are the same as the grounds for a divorce. Either spouse may request that a legal separation be converted to an absolute divorce when it has been in effect for two years without reconciliation.
- Grounds: No-Fault, which is either irreconcilable differences; or living separate and apart without cohabitation for two years when there are no minor children; and fault, which includes impotence, adultery, imprisonment; alcoholism or drug addiction; wife is pregnant by another at the time of marriage without husband's knowledge, willful desertion for 1 year, bigamy, endangering the life of the spouse, conviction of an infamous crime, abandonment for two years; cruel and inhuman treatment, indignities that make the spouse's life intolerable. (See Grounds Laws for Divorce)
- Residency Requirement: The petitioner must be a resident of Tennessee at the time the grounds for divorce happened. If the grounds took place outside Tennessee, one of the spouses must be a resident for six months before filing. The divorce is filed in the county in which both spouses reside if they are both residents; or the county in which the respondent resides if he or she is a resident; or the county in which the petitioner resides. (See Tennessee Residency Requirements for Divorce)
- Mediation Required: Mediation is required in most contested situations. Divorcing spouses mediate their issues to resolve or narrow the issues prior to a trial. Parents must usually attend mediation to attempt to reach agreement on a temporary parenting plan while the divorce is pending in the court. Upon request from one of the parents, the court may delay a divorce action to allow for reconciliation.
- Counseling Required: There is no mandatory counseling.
- Parenting Classes Required: The court may order one or both parents to attend a four-hour parenting class/seminar on the effects of divorce on children.
- Filing Fee: $150-$300.
- Where to File for Child Support: Information about Tennessee Child Support Enforcement can be found at Department of Human Services. Child support is mandatory, and non-payment of child support is considered a criminal offense. If a noncustodial parent is ordered to pay child support and does not pay, he or she is subject to enforcement measures in accordance with Federal and Tennessee child support law to collect regular and past-due support payments.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: The noncustodial parent pays child support based on the Income Shares Model, and the provisions are outlined in the Tennessee child support guidelines. (See Tennessee Child Support)
- Property Division: Equitable division, with a dual property regime.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is separate.
- Attendance at Hearing: Yes. The filing spouse must attend a brief hearing to finalize the action. (Read more about Tennessee divorce hearings)
- Fault Considered in Property Division: No.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: A party receives personal service by hand delivery of the divorce papers or substituted service by mail.
- Divorce Records: The Tennessee Department of Health
- Learn More About Tennessee Divorce.
All parties filing for divorce with minor children in Tennessee must typically attend this 4-hour class/seminar which addresses the impact of divorce on children. Tennessee courts require completion of the mandatory parenting class before granting a divorce and proof of completion is provided to the court by filing a certificate of completion. This parenting class/seminar requirement is set up to help families and children deal with the trauma of divorce and/or separation as well as educate on successful co-parenting post divorce. The court does have the ability to grant a waiver for the parenting class/seminar, but this is very uncommon in most county courts.
In Tennessee, the noncustodial parent is called the "Alternate Residential Parent" (ARP), the custodial parent is called the he "Primary Residential Parent" (PRP). The former pays the latter support for the children’s needs. Based on the Tennessee Code Title 36, Chapter 5: Alimony and Child Support and the Tennessee Department of Human Services Rules, child support is the responsibility of both parents and there financial obligations are offset by one spouse paying the other the difference. The monthly amount can be calculated using the support guidelines and/or the parents can agree to an amount that the court believes is reasonable and fair. The guidelines permit support based on the parents’ income, the amount of time each parent spends with the children, and the number of children supported. The minimum support payment is $100 per month. Income calculated in Tennessee fro child support is comprehensive and it includes wages, salaries, commissions, fees, and tips, self-employment income, bonuses, overtime payments, severance pay, pension and retirement plans, interest, dividend, trust, and annuity income, net capital gains, Social Security disability or retirement, workers compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, personal injury awards and other civil judgments, gifts, prizes, and lottery winnings and alimony from prior or subsequent spouses. Child support normally ends when the child turns 18 unless he or she is still in high school or the parents agree otherwise.
When your divorce is final and the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce, one of the last steps to complete a Divorce Certificate, Form PH1682 for the Department of Health. This form records the divorce action for state records ands statistic purposes. This Certificate is not the same as the Final Decree of Divorce. The certificate only records information such as both spouse’s name, marriage and/or divorce information, the date of divorce, reason for the divorce, children, if any, court judgments including any property division, alimony, and any custody agreements, including support (if there are children involved). You can contact Tennessee Vital Records at 710 James Robertson Parkway, 1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower, Nashville, Tennessee, 37243 or call 615-741-1763 for more information. The Tennessee Office of Vital Records maintains the original certificates of births, deaths, marriages and divorces that occur in the state. You can request your divorce certificate either in person, by mail or online.