As a family law firm , we know that going through a divorce is a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting process. You and your ex-partner usually want it finalized as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Many divorces can be complicated, involving custody, visitation, financial analysis, and the process will often delve deeply into your private lives. Tennessee has a process in place that allows the spouses to reach a divorce agreement while not going through a court trial’s enormous stress. This uncontested divorce process provides a path for you to finalize this process much more quickly and with substantially less expense.
As always, some rules must be met for you and your ex-partner to file an uncontested divorce, or simply, divorce. Tennessee couples are eligible to file for an uncontested divorce if they do not have children together. There are fewer forms to fill out by filing this way, it is less expensive, but you and your ex-partner have to agree to all the terms.
There are still criteria that you and your ex-partner have to meet.
These criteria include:
- Neither spouse is pregnant
- Both spouses agree that they want to end the marriage
- You and your ex-partner do not own a business or property together
- Neither spouse has retirement benefits to divide
- You and your spouse do not have minor children together, whether biological or adopted (there are exceptions to this rule explained below)
- You both have agreed on all the issues in your divorce and the division of any personal property involved.
- All financial arrangements must also be agreed upon, such as alimony, debt allocation, etc.
It is mandatory that you and your spouse agree on all of these mandatory criteria and that the rules of filing an uncontested divorce match those of your case.
If you both are considering an uncontested divorce proceeding, discuss this with your divorce attorney upfront, and make sure you meet all the necessary criteria. You and your family matter, and your family lawyer will make sure that this type of filing is possible in your case and in your best interests.
If your case does meet the criteria for a “simple or agreed” divorce, you may not even need the assistance of a judge in court, and the entire process may only take 60-90 days.
Is it Possible to File an Uncontested Divorce in Tennessee if Children are Involved?
Fortunately, although most uncontested divorces do not have children to consider, it is possible to file a “simple” divorce, but more steps are involved. This is an area where your family law attorneys will be indispensable.
If children are involved, all of the previous criteria must be met, but also the following:
- You both will agree on alimony, property division, child support, and a supportive parenting plan
- One of both of you have lived in Tennessee for the last 6 months
There are other criteria as well, but these are the basics. These criteria are in addition to the others listed above that must be met.
It’s important to note that if you or your spouse had a child with a different biological father or adopted with a different individual, you will not meet the criteria for an uncontested divorce. The same rule applies if someone other than you or spouse is entitled to visitation or custody of the siblings.
Having children involved makes it more difficult to file for a simple divorce. It is possible though, but your family lawyer will guide you down the best path possible for you and your family.
Other Tennessee Guidelines for getting an Uncontested Divorce
If you wish to file for any type of divorce in Tennessee, you still have to have at least one legal reason or “grounds” for the filing.
Some of the most common grounds for divorce are:
- Inappropriate marital conduct
- Habitual alcohol or narcotics abuse
- Irreconcilable differences
Note that all of the above grounds put the fault on one of the spouses. To file this quicker, simpler, and less expensive path to divorce, most cases will use irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce. Using irreconcilable differences as grounds for your divorce does not mean that one of the spouses is not at fault. It just means that you are using irreconcilable differences as the grounds to expedite the divorce process.
If one of the other grounds (such as alcoholism) is used as grounds, it has to be proven, and you would not be able to file for an uncontested divorce.
This also means that you and your ex-spouse must agree on the division of property, debts, alimony, and all of the other unique aspects of your case. The court is especially concerned if children are involved, so absolutely all questions regarding the care, custody, finances, and visitation of the child (or children) must be fully settled.
If there are any disagreements, even minor ones, the court will not allow you to obtain a divorce based upon irreconcilable differences. If there are any disagreements at all, then your family lawyer may be able to provide a form of mediation to come to a mutual agreement on the matter. Mediation also may be done without the court’s use, but your lawyer will make sure it is applicable. Always consult a family lawyer so that you can finalize your divorce quickly and without all the financial and emotional stress a long drawn out divorce will cause.