TENNESSEE DIVORCE MADE EASY. DOCUMENTS DONE RIGHT!
TENNESSEE 3STEPDIVORCE TM - KEEPING YOUR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE SIMPLE
|This easy-to-use "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution is for individuals trying to file for an uncontested divorce (with or without children) online in Tennessee. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.
With 3StepDivorce TM you will complete and print your Tennessee divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Then, follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your own online divorce in TN in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.
Online Divorce FAQ: Tennessee
Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court's requirements for the next steps you'll need to take.
Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that's still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.
If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in Tennessee.
How Does Online Divorce Work in Tennessee?
Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you'll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms that you'll need to start the divorce process. You'll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.
Can I File for Divorce in Tennessee?
Tennessee has two basic requirements to file for divorce (sometimes called an “absolute divorce”) in the state: a residency requirement, and a legally recognized reason for ending your marriage.
What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Tennessee?
If the plaintiff spouse (the one who files for divorce) lived in Tennessee at the time when the events that caused the marriage to fail happened, Tennessee's residency requirement is met.
If the events or acts occurred out of the state and the plaintiff spouse lived out of state at the time, the plaintiff or defendant (non-filing) spouse must live in Tennessee for six months before a divorce complaint can be filed in Tennessee. (Tenn. Code § 36-4-104 (2022).)
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee?
Tennessee allows both “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorces. A no-fault divorce is one in which the court doesn't require either spouse to prove that the other committed the bad act that caused the marriage to end. In a fault-based divorce, one or both of the spouses must show that the other's actions caused the marriage to fail.
Most divorcing couples in Tennessee choose to file a no-fault divorce: No-fault divorces reach resolution faster than fault-based because the spouses don't have to argue about or prove who was responsible for the divorce. Tennessee has two no-fault grounds for divorce:
- Irreconcilable differences. The parties can't get along, and there's no hope of reconciliation.
- Living apart. The spouses have lived in separate residences for two continuous years, haven't cohabitated, and don't have minor children.
(Tenn. Code § 36-4-101(a) (2022).)
Tennessee has many fault-based grounds for divorce, such as adultery, impotence, and conviction of a crime. Fault-based divorces are often more contentious, more expensive, and last longer than no-fault divorces, so most people who file a fault-based divorce in Tennessee decide to hire a lawyer.
Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ currently only provides services for couples who are getting divorced based on irreconcilable differences.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Tennessee?
Many Tennessee residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they're filing for an “uncontested divorce” in the state. That means that they've agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:
- how to divide their property and debts
- alimony, and
- child custody, visitation, and child support (if they have minor children).
If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you'll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.
Can I Use Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?
You may use Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ as long as you have an uncontested divorce based on irreconcilable differences, and you meet the state's residency requirement. You'll need to have a written marital settlement agreement, signed by both you and your spouse, that covers all of the issues in your divorce. Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ will create this agreement for you, based on your answers to the questionnaire—which serves as a guide for the provisions and options you should consider.
Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ can also help if you aren't ready to file for divorce, but you want a separation agreement with your spouse. For instance, you might want to work out arrangements for support, custody of your children, who has to move out of the family home, and how to take care of the bills while you're separated but still legally married.
What If My Spouse and I Can't Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?
Just because you haven't been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you're able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator's help, you can then use Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.
Can I Get an Online Divorce in Tennessee If I Have Children?
Generally, you can use Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you'll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.
However, you won't be able to address custody-related issues with Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don't meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means that Tennessee must be the home state of the child on the date the divorce is filed, or that Tennessee was the home state of the child within six months before filing (and the child is absent from Tennessee but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in the state). (Tenn. Code § 36-6-216 (2022).) If you don't meet the home state requirement, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule.
How Will My Online Divorce in Tennessee Deal With Child Support?
In Tennessee, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Tennessee has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.
3StepDivorce™ provides the Tennessee Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will review your agreement to determine if the amount of support is in your children's best interests.
In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren't legally required, such as a parent's contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child's college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.
Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?
After your divorce in Tennessee is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you'll need to show that your circumstances have changed significantly. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.
If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own.
How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?
When you fill out your questionnaire for Tennessee 3StepDivorce™, you'll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you'll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.
What About the Family Home?
If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you've chosen to deal with it, such as:
- selling the house and splitting the proceeds
- transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse's share, or
- continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you'll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).
What About Retirement Accounts?
In your Tennessee 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you'll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.
If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you'll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You'll almost always need this kind of expert help when you're dealing with a defined-benefit pension.
Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset.
Here's how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don't have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that's needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.
The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse's share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse's name. (You'll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)
Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Tennessee?
You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Tennessee divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.
How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Tennessee?
When you get your completed forms with Tennessee 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to file them with the clerk of the court in the county where you'll be filing. You'll file in the court of the county where you and your spouse reside or in the county where the non-filing (defendant) spouse resides. If the defendant spouse lives outside the state or is a convict, you'll file in the county where you live. (Tenn. Code § 36-4-105 (2022).)
(Learn more about the process of filing divorce papers in Tennessee.)
How Much Is Tennessee's Filing Fee for Divorce?
Divorce filing fees vary by county in Tennessee. Check with the clerk of the court in the county where you'll be filing to find out the current filing fee. In most Tennessee courts, the filing fees will total between $300 and $400.
What If I Can't Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?
If you can't afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask the judge to waive or postpone the fees. You can request a fee waiver by filing a Request to Postpone Filing Fees and Order. If the court grants your request, you won't have to pay any fees during your divorce (the judge might require you to pay them at the conclusion of the divorce, or might require your spouse to pay them on your behalf).
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Tennessee?
Tennessee courts can't begin processing a divorce until a period of time has passed after the divorce petition is filed.
If you and your spouse don't have any unmarried minor children, the court must wait 60 days after your petition is filed to hear the case. If you and your spouse have one or more unmarried children under 18 years of age, the court must wait 90 days after your petition is filed to hear the case. (Tenn. Code § 36-4-101 (2022).)
How Can I Get More Help With Tennessee Online Divorce?
Tennessee 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited, live, person-to-person support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, call our Tennessee Divorce Online Help Center at (888) 665-6782 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time).
Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Tennessee law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.