TENNESSEE DIVORCE LAW
If you are contemplating a divorce or separation in Tennessee it is important for you to understand the applicable Tennessee laws. If you obtain a divorce or “dissolution of marriage” in Tennessee, your marriage will legally end and you and your ex-spouse will be considered single and may re-marry. Divorce can be a complicated, lengthy, and emotional process; it is important to contact a Tennessee divorce attorney for advice.
Tennessee Legal Separation
As an alternative to filing a complaint for divorce, you may file a complaint for legal separation. Legal separation does not affect the bonds of matrimony but does permit the parties to cease matrimonial cohabitation (living together). If you are granted a legal separation in Tennessee you and your spouse will not be able to re-marry. Legal separations in Tennessee are generally granted for up to two years, after which time the court may grant an absolute divorce (if the parties have not reconciled by then and a petition for absolute divorce is filed). Once the legal separation is granted, the court may modify or add to the decree in order to address visitation issues, provide spousal support, and/or child support. If the marital property is divided as part of the order of legal separation, any property acquired by a spouse thereafter is deemed separate property of that spouse. Spouses may opt for a legal separation over a divorce for religious reasons.
Tennessee Grounds For Divorce
When filing for divorce you will need to state the “grounds” or “reasons” why you want the divorce. In Tennessee, you may file for a fault-based divorce or a no-fault-based divorce.
No-fault grounds: if filing for divorce under no-fault grounds, you are stating that neither spouse is responsible for the divorce. In Tennessee, “irreconcilable differences” is the basic standard the parties must meet to show no-fault grounds.
Fault-based grounds: if filing for fault grounds, you are stating that the reason or grounds for the divorce is due to the fault of the other spouse. The fault grounds in Tennessee are considerably more specific, for instance: adultery, bigamy, impotence, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, two year period of separation, the suffering of “intolerable indignities,” abandonment with refusal to provide for the other spouse, and abuse of controlled substances or alcohol. Filing for divorce can me a complicated and emotional matter and it is important to discuss your options with a Tennessee divorce attorney.
Tennessee Divorce Residency Requirements
To file for divorce in Tennessee, either party must be an actual resident of the state, or if the grounds for divorce occurred outside the state, either party must reside in Tennessee for at least six months before filing the complaint. For military personnel, this requirement rises to one year. The petition must be filed in the local circuit court of the county where the parties resided at the time of their separation, or in either the county where the defendant resides or the applicant resides.
An annulment is a court declaration that your marriage is legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. In Tennessee, reasons to grant an annulment may include: consent obtained by fraud, previous marriage (unless absent for 5 years and not known to be living), bigamy, incest, and same sex. Annulments in Tennessee may be complicated; you should discuss your options with a Tennessee divorce attorney.
Tennessee Property Division
Tennessee follows the property division theory of “equitable distribution.” This means that “marital property” (not separate property) will be distributed on terms considered to be fair, not necessarily equal (50/50). In the equitable distribution adjudication, the court will consider, among other things, the contributions of each spouse to the marital estate, the total value of the properties of the parties, the economic circumstances of each party, any misconduct that may have occurred, and the amount of spousal support award, if any.
“Marital Property” means all real and personal property, both tangible and intangible, acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage up to the date of the final divorce hearing and owned by either or both spouses as of the date of filing of a complaint for divorce. All marital property shall be valued as of a date as near as possible to the date of entry of the order finally dividing the marital property.
The division of marital property is not an exact calculation and can vary marriage to marriage. It is important to discuss property division with a Tennessee divorce attorney.
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