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How can I obtain a divorce in Tennessee?

Making the decision to end a marriage is difficult and requires a lot of soul searching. Marriages and the relationship between spouses can be extremely complicated and factors both within and outside a marriage may contribute to marital discord and divisiveness between spouses. In cases where one or both spouses comes to the decision that a marriage is no longer working and divorce is the best option, it's important to understand how divorce works in Tennessee.

Tennessee allows both fault and no-fault divorces. However, obtaining a no-fault divorce can be difficult as it requires that both spouses negotiate and agree about divorce-related matters such as the division of marital property and child custody, which, in many divorces are disputed and contentious topics.

When seeking a divorce under the grounds of fault, an individual must provide information about a spouse's misconduct. Common grounds for a fault divorce include adultery, desertion and inappropriate or unreasonable conduct.

To obtain a divorce in Tennessee, an individual must have lived in the state for at least six months. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state meaning that all assets and property obtained during the course of a marriage must be divided in a divorce. It’s important to note that the term equitable does not mean equal, but more closely is defined by what the court deems to be fair. Therefore, a number of factors are considered when dividing property and assets and assigning responsibility for the repayment of marital debts.

Once divorce proceedings are underway, spouses in a no-fault divorce where both spouses are able to work out and agree upon terms of a divorce settlement, may receive a final divorce degree 60 or more days after an initial divorce filing. For couples with children, a divorce can be finalized 90 or more days after an initial filing. In contested divorces, obtaining a final divorce degree typically takes much longer.

Individuals who wish to obtain a divorce in Tennessee would be wise to discuss their situation and concerns with an attorney. A divorce attorney can answer questions and devise a strategy to help an individual work towards achieving his or her divorce-related goals.

Source: "Fort Knox Legal Assistance Office: Tennessee Divorce Law," 2014

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