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A short primer on Tennessee divorce

After making the monumental decision to pursue a divorce, most spouses want to move forward as quickly as possible, eager to start a new chapter in their lives. While this is certainly understandable, what about those spouses for whom the decision about divorce isn't quite so clear?

Indeed, many spouses may feel reluctant to move ahead with a divorce not because of any emotional conflict, but rather because they know so little about the process and everything it entails. In other words, their unawareness of how the law works in this area might cause them to doubt whether it's a viable option. 

In recognition of this, today's post will provide some basic background information on divorce here in Tennessee as a means of empowering those spouses who want to know more.

Residency requirements

In general, anyone looking to file for divorce here in Tennessee will need to have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months. As to where in the state the divorce can be pursued, it can be in filed in the county in which the petitioning spouse lives or the county in which the soon-to-be former spouse lives.


Once the divorce petition is filed, there are multiple ways in which the papers can be served on the soon-to-be former spouse, including process server, newspaper publication (if you don't know their location) and certified mail.   

No-fault and fault-based divorce

Under Tennessee law, the person looking to secure the divorce has the option of citing one of many grounds for the divorce. In other words, they may claim that they are pursuing the divorce because of the actions of their spouse, such as adultery, willful and malicious desertion, criminal conviction, habitual drunkenness, etc.

As you can probably imagine, pursuing a fault-based divorce can cost time and money. Given this reality, Tennessee (and every other state) permits what is known as no-fault divorce. This means that in order to secure a divorce in the Volunteer State, the spouse need only cite "irreconcilable differences," or indicate that they've lived apart and not cohabitated as a married couple for two years, and have no minor children.

Cooling-off periods

If a divorcing couple has no minor children, state law mandates that there is a mandatory 60-day cooling off period after the divorce petition is filed. If the divorcing couple has minor children, however, the mandatory cooling off period is 90 days after the divorce petition is filed.

Here's hoping the foregoing information has proven eye opening. Those who would like to learn more about divorce -- or start the process as soon as possible -- should strongly consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can provide answers and pursue solutions.   

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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