No two divorces are the same. However, the one thing that remains the same is that you must ensure that you are filing for divorce in the proper jurisdiction. For example, if you just moved to Tennessee, can you still file for divorce here? What if you live in Tennessee, but your spouse lives in another state?
Many people believe they are required to file for divorce in the state where they were married, which is not true. Where you file for divorce is instead based on where you reside, and each state has different residency requirements.
If you file for divorce without meeting the state’s residency requirements, your case will be dismissed, so it’s essential to ensure that you file in the correct jurisdiction. This article will explain the residency requirements for a divorce in Tennessee, exceptions to the requirements, and what you can do if you don’t meet those requirements.
How Long Do I Have to Live in Tennessee to File For Divorce?
Per Tennessee Code § 36-4-104 (2020), in order to be eligible to file for divorce in Tennessee, at least one of the spouses involved must have resided in the state for at least six months. If both spouses reside in the same county, the divorce should be filed in the county where the spouses reside. If each spouse lives in a different county, you should file in one of the counties in which either spouse resides.
Another way to fulfill the jurisdictional requirement is if the act(s) that led to the divorce occurred in the state. These requirements keep couples who reside in other jurisdictions from filing for divorce in Tennessee when they have no other connection.
The Exception to the Rule
A case of domestic violence is the exception to the residency requirement. In this case, it doesn’t matter if either spouse has established residency in Tennessee. If the spouse who was abused moves to Tennessee, they can file for a divorce in Tennessee, even though they don’t meet the residency requirement.
If a member of the military is a party in the divorce, that can lead to a gray area. The residency statute states that a service member who has been stationed in the state for a year or more is considered a resident for divorce purposes. However, this statute can be invalidated if clear evidence is presented that the military member is not a resident of Tennessee.
Residency Regarding a Minor’s Home State
If one spouse lives in Tennessee and the other spouse lives in another state, residency jurisdiction can be even more complicated, especially if minor children are involved in the divorce. When child custody determinations are required, the courts must make these determinations according to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).
The UCCJEA specifies which court should decide a custody case. The home state of a minor must be established prior to the court entering the initial child custody orders. And it’s important to remember that, even if you and your spouse have agreed to a parenting plan, the courts will still have to make a home state determination before any determinations regarding child custody can be made.
What to Do if You Don’t Meet Residency Requirements
You have a few options if you don’t meet the residency requirements for a Tennessee divorce.
- Wait until you meet the residency requirements of the state
- If your spouse meets residency requirements, have them file
- Choose a state where you or your spouse meet the residency requirements
Proving Tennessee Residency
When proving residency, your divorce paperwork will include a document stating that you, the filing spouse, have lived in Tennessee for at least six months. You would then provide a copy of your Tennessee driver’s license (or state ID) showing your current address. Alternatively, you can provide an affidavit signed by a third party stating that you are currently a resident and have been more than six months before you filed for divorce.
Let Attorney Hunter Fowler Guide You Through the Divorce Process
Divorce can be confusing enough. If you’re still not sure if you meet the residency requirements for a divorce in Tennessee, let Attorney Hunter Fowler help.
Hunter has the knowledge, experience, connections, and compassion to provide you with expert legal representation throughout your divorce. He sees himself as a protector and resource for his clients and will do everything he can to ensure that the outcome is what you want for you and your family.
Contact us today for a consultation.