The grounds for divorce have been set by statute since 1999. The fifteen (15) grounds are: impotency (at the time of marriage), prior existing marriage, adultery, desertion (for more than 1 year), conviction of an infamous crime, conviction and imprisonment for a felony, attempt on the life of a spouse, refusal to follow to Tennessee, pregnancy before marriage (by a third party and without the knowledge of the husband), habitual drunkeness or drug abuse, cruel and inhuman treatment (inappropriate marital conduct), indignities to the person, abandonment and failure to support, irreconcilable differences and continuous separation for more than 2 years. A divorce cannot be had on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if one spouse contests the divorce.
How long does it take to get divorced?readclose
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.
How can I afford a lawyer if only my spouse works?readclose
The Court can direct the supporting spouse to pay a needy spouse's suit costs, including attorney's fees, with a pendente lite (pending the litigation) order. The relief can be requested in the original petition, an answer or cross-complaint in response to a petition or by a motion made thereafter. The spouse seeking this relief must demonstrate need and the other spouse's ability to pay. If an award is made, it will usually be kept low because the outcome of the litigation is uncertain. Alimony and child support may also be ordered pendente lite.
What is an annulment?readclose
An annulment is a declaration from the court that a marriage was void from the beginning. Grounds for an annulment include: (1) a party was under age (16) at the time of marriage; (2) a party had a prior existing marriage; (3) denial of marital rights; (4) lack of mental capacity at the time of marriage; (5) duress; and (6) fraud.
I recently moved to Tennessee. Can I get divorced here?readclose
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.
Does Tennessee allow common law marriages?readclose
No. A common law marriage is entered when a couple resides together for an extended period of time and hold themselves out to the public as married even though they have not been through a formal ceremony or obtained a license. Common law marriages are recognized in some states. If a couple entered a common law marriage in another state, Tennessee will recognize them as married and allow a divorce.
Does the mother usually get custody of the children?readclose
“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.
How much will I have to pay for child support?readclose
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.
Does my child have a say in which parent is the PRP?readclose
Usually, the Court will only consider the preferences of children 12 years old and older.
Can I keep my house?readclose
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.
Which parent gets the dependency exemption for income tax after a divorce?readclose
This is a negotiable term in a divorce. It is generally expected the parent having the greater number of parenting days will be awarded the exemption. If parenting time is equal, absent an agreement to the contrary, the IRS will consider the parent with the higher adjusted gross income entitled to the exemption. The dependency exemption which would otherwise belong to a parent can be transferred to the other parent through the use of IRS Form 8332.
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We will help every step of the way in your divorce or other family law matters.