if you have any doubt about whether your marriage can be saved, talk to your spouse and make an appointment with a licensed marital therapist or similarly qualified professional NOW and STOP READING HERE. Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult emotional challenges you will ever face. A relationship which once held much promise and the potential for a lifetime of happiness has collapsed. In addition to natural feelings like hurt, disappointment and guilt, you must now enter a future filled with uncertainty.
*This site offers general legal information about Tennessee divorce and family law. The offering of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Scott Rhodes and should not be taken as advice or an outcome prediction in a particular case. The outcome of a case is determined by its facts and, oftentimes, a number of other variables. You should consult directly with a lawyer before deciding on a course of action in your case.
To increase your odds of an outcome that is just for you and those you hold most dear, you need an advocate on your side who will listen, understand the issues and your goals and tirelessly champion your cause. Your lawyer’s experience and confidence will matter. I invite you to explore this website and find out if I am the right lawyer for you.
We offer free, in person, initial consultations on divorce and family law matters. Our office is conveniently located less than half a mile east of Exit 74 on I-65 in Brentwood. Parking is always free in our new, multi-level garage. Call or email us to set your appointment.
scott Rhodes grew up in Pensacola, Florida. He came to Nashville in 1987 as a Vanderbilt student and graduated cum laude in 1991 with honors in history. Later that year, he enrolled at Florida State’s College of Law where he served as an Articles & Notes Editor for the Journal of Transnational Law and Policy, worked on the school’s employment law news bulletin and earned a spot on the Mock Trial Team. He also worked with numerous Tallahassee lawyers and law firms that specialized in everything from criminal law to medical regulatory matters.
Usually, you must be a resident of Tennessee for 6 months before filing a divorce complaint. If you are a "bona fide" resident, meaning you moved to Tennessee with a genuine intent to stay here, it may be possible to get divorced without waiting 6 months if the actions forming grounds for divorce occurred in Tennessee.
State law requires a waiting period of at least 60 days after the divorce petition is filed if there are no children under 18 involved in the divorce. If there are children under 18, the waiting period is 90 days from the filing date of the petition.
This does not mean you will be automatically divorced on Day 61 or 91. Divorce papers must be served on the other spouse and he/she must be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. If there are disagreements over things like the division of property, alimony or a parenting plan, this will lengthen the process. A divorce can proceed much faster if the parties agree on all the key issues.
The Court must rule there is evidence justifying the divorce and all matters involving property, debt and children have been fairly resolved. Getting a court date can sometimes be a lengthy process in some jurisdictions. If the parties are presenting an agreed divorce, you can expect a fairly short hearing with the judge. The length of a contested divorce hearing can take hours or even days depending on the issues in dispute, number of witnesses, complexity of the parties’ finances, etc.
“Custody” is an outdated word under Tennessee law. The custodial parent is now called the primary residential parent (PRP). The law does not favor one parent over the other. The Court’s goal is to make the PRP the parent most likely to further the best interests of the child. The Court will consider multiple factors. The fact the mother may have been the primary caregiver during the marriage is only one of those factors.
Usually, the Court will only consider the preferences of children 12 years old and older.
Tennessee courts, in nearly all cases, are required to follow child support guidelines established by the Department of Human Services. These guidelines set the minimum amounts for child support. The Court can award more due to the unique circumstances of a case. DHS provides a calculator which can be found here.
You must first ask yourself can you keep your house? Will you have the finances to pay the mortgage, utilities, taxes, maintenance, etc., and still be able to pay all your other expenses? If not, the house may need to be sold. If your spouse can afford to stay in the house, and the house is part of the marital property, the property division in the divorce should reflect your financial share of the house. In many cases, the spouse who stays can be ordered to refinance the house in his/her name only and pay the departing spouse for his/her share.