Tennessee, best known for its country music and the smoky mountains, is also one of the top ten states with the highest divorce rates.
If you are a resident of Tennessee seeking a divorce, there are two ways to file one: fault and no-fault. The former is when your spouse’s behavior led to the breakup. No-fault divorce is when neither caused the marriage to fail, but you both choose to get separated.
Either way, you and your spouse should have been living in Tennessee for six months or more. Your TN divorce lawyer can explain the other requirements you need to meet.
Here are the basics you must understand:
Check If You Qualify for Divorce
Under Tennessee law, the spouse filing for divorce should list a reason, called ground. Hence, it is also your responsibility to prove the other party’s misconduct.
Fault Divorce Grounds
You can claim divorce if your spouse:
- was impotent during the marriage and continues to be so and cannot procreate
- was still married and knowingly entered into this second marriage
- committed adultery
- willfully or maliciously deserted you for one year, without a reasonable cause
- has been convicted of a crime per the laws of the state
- has committed a felony and received jail confinement
- attempted to take your life by poison or other means indicating malice
- has refused to reside in a house with you for two years
- contracted a habit of alcohol or narcotic abuse after marriage
- is guilty of inhuman treatment or conduct that renders cohabitation unsafe and improper for you, etc.
No-Fault Divorce Grounds
In no-fault or mutual consent cases, either spouse does not blame the other for the marriage breakdown. Usually, the reason or ground they mention to the court is “irreconcilable differences.” It just means that they have no intention of remaining in the relationship.
Depending on whether you have children or not, the mandatory cooling-off period would be 60 to 90 days. You can expect a no-fault divorce in Tennessee in two-six months, while contested divorce may take years.
There is another way to get a divorce – that is, after a separation. You can prove that you have been living apart for two or more years, provided you have no children.
Is Annulment the Same as Divorce?
The short answer is no. While divorce terminates a marriage, an annulment means that the marriage was never valid in the first place. The court considers you were never married before.
Whether it is annulment or divorce, the children remain protected. The ‘Parenting Plan Program’ formulated by Tennessee State Courts will guide divorced parents to make decisions for their children’s well-being.
The following are some of the grounds for annulment in TN:
- Either spouse is insane when the marriage took place
- One of you are underage
- The relationship is incestuous – you are closer than first cousins
- Your spouse already has a living wife or husband
- The other party is physically incapable of having sexual intercourse
- Your spouse coerced or defrauded you into getting married
Serving Divorce Papers
You must provide official notice to your spouse, which is called serving papers. You can send copies of the divorce paperwork via certified mail.
Request a process server or sheriff to send the documents or have a trusted adult to hand-deliver them. If you don’t know where your spouse resides, get a legal notice published in a newspaper.
If your spouse lives out of state, this phase may take more time. Also, if Tennessee has no jurisdiction where they live, your lawyer can guide you in taking the next right step.
Do You Require a Divorce Attorney in Tennessee?
Technically, you do not need to hire a lawyer if it is a no-fault divorce in Tennessee. But given the complicated divorce processes, it is wise to have knowledgeable counsel by your side. Your TN divorce lawyer can watch your back in the lawsuit and advise you on accepting the most favorable terms.