How Long Does a Divorce Take in Tennessee? What You Need to Know

When your “happily ever after” doesn’t last as long as you expected, and you’ve decided that a divorce is what’s best for you and your family, one of the first questions you may have is, how long will this take? It’s natural to want to know how long such an emotional event will take. However, many circumstances will affect how long it will take for your divorce to be finalized.

While we can’t tell you exactly how long your divorce will take in Tennessee, you should be aware of how long it could take so that you can plan accordingly. We will discuss the types of divorces and factors that could affect how long it takes to complete the divorce process in Tennessee.

Types of Divorce in Tennessee


An uncontested divorce is the quickest type of divorce in Tennessee and can take as little as two months. Your divorce is uncontested when both parties agree to mediation and, through mediation, agree on all terms of the divorce, and no minor children are involved.

Agreeing on how to split marital assets via mediation can save a substantial amount of time and money. However, keep in mind that even if the divorce is uncontested, you are still required to wait the mandatory 60 days after filing with the court before your divorce can be finalized.


When the couple can’t come to an agreement through mediation, when minor children are involved, or if it is a high-conflict case, your divorce is considered contested. A contested divorce can take anywhere from six months to over a couple of years to finalize.

Factors Affecting How Long a Divorce Takes

Mandatory Waiting Period

Per Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-4-101(b), after the divorce complaint is filed, there is a mandatory waiting period before the divorce hearing can take place. If there are no minor children involved, there is a waiting period of sixty days. If there are minor children involved, the waiting period is ninety days.

This waiting period is often referred to as the “cooling off” period. It allows the couple to take time to try to resolve their issues and possibly reconcile the marriage. You cannot waive the waiting period.


When making custody determinations, Tennessee must be the child’s home state for at least six months (Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-216). Determining that Tennessee is the child’s home state can take time and often requires additional prep time and court hearings to resolve. The exception to this rule is domestic violence.

Preparing the Complaint for Divorce

If you meet the residency requirements (one of the spouses has to be a resident of Tennessee for at least six months), there isn’t a waiting period to file the Complaint for Divorce. The time it takes to prepare and file the Complaint for Divorce depends on the grounds for divorce and if there are children involved.

Service of Process Time

After you’ve filed the divorce complaint with the courts, a summons and complaint must be served on your spouse. This can happen by a deputy sheriff, a private process server, or certified mail. This can typically occur within a couple of days, but if your spouse signs a waiver of service process, things can progress faster.

If you don’t know where your spouse is located, you may need to publish a notice in the newspaper in the county where your spouse lives. This should only happen if you’ve unsuccessfully tried other methods. If you have to take this route, it could take many weeks or longer.

Awaiting a Response to the Initial Divorce Complaint

After you’ve served the complaint and summons, your spouse has thirty days to answer the allegations by filing their responsive pleading and a counter-complaint for divorce.

If your spouse is a member of the Armed Forces and is deployed or on active duty, they will have more time to respond per the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA protects service members’ rights by allowing the postponement of civil lawsuits in some situations.

Dissolution Agreements or Settlements

If you have a settlement, that’s the easiest path to a quick divorce. A settlement agreement and parenting plan agreement (if applicable) can help your case proceed more quickly. If the court agrees to your settlement, your divorce will not have to go to trial.

Issuing the Divorce Decree

After the judge makes their decision, it could take a week or longer for the final divorce decree to be entered.


When the final decree is issued, either party can appeal the decision within thirty days. If that happens, it could take six months to a year and a half for your case to be reviewed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Attorney Hunter Fowler, a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney Who Listens

Although there is no cut and dry answer to how long a divorce will take, it’s helpful to have an idea of the length of time the process could take. When you’re filing for divorce in Tennessee, being represented by an experienced, qualified local divorce attorney can sometimes give you the upper hand.

Hunter Fowler is a Murfreesboro divorce attorney who knows you’re going through a difficult time. Your divorce can often leave you feeling confused and vulnerable, which is why you need the best legal counsel possible. Attorney Hunter Fowler will help you navigate the ins and outs of the divorce process and help you with every detail of your divorce proceedings to ensure that the outcome is what’s best for you and your family.

Contact our office and talk to an attorney who listens.