Divorce can be a very emotional time under any circumstances. But not all divorces have to be a long, drawn-out battle. An uncontested divorce can eliminate some of the psychological and financial stress the divorce may cause.
An uncontested divorce is the simplest, most cost-effective way to get a divorce. While most people understand the basic concept of an uncontested divorce, certain details about the legal proceedings can catch you off guard. Keep reading to learn more about uncontested divorce in Tennessee.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorce requires you and your spouse to agree on every aspect of the divorce. However, if there are some factors you can’t agree on, mediation is an excellent option to get the details worked out.
There are two different methods of uncontested divorce in Tennessee, agreed divorce and irreconcilable differences, both of which have different conditions that must be met.
An agreed divorce is a simplified process of uncontested divorce. However, it’s only available to couples who meet all requirements.
Requirements for an Agreed Divorce
An agreed divorce is only available if the spouses:
- Have no minor (or still in high school) or disabled children. And neither party can be pregnant.
- Do not have any mutually owned real estate or businesses
- Don’t have retirement benefits
- Both want the marriage to end
- Agree on alimony payments (if applicable)
- Agree on the property division
Tennessee residency requirements must also be met, meaning either spouse has to reside in the state for at least six months or both spouses lived in Tennessee when you decided to divorce.
Filing an Agreed Divorce
To file for an agreed divorce, a written agreement that has been signed by both spouses, that includes details on your personal property, debts, an agreement of the property and debt division, and alimony must be submitted to the courts. When you sign the document, it is an agreement that you don’t have to serve divorce papers to each other.
The Tennessee courts website has the forms you must submit for an agreed divorce. You will receive instructions on completing and filing the forms with the court in the county where the Tennessee resident lives.
There are also filing fees that are required when you file your divorce petition. If you cannot afford the fees, there is a form in the packet you receive from the website requesting a postponement of the filing fees.
If you don’t qualify for an agreed divorce, you can file on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” to obtain an uncontested divorce. When filing for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you must reach a settlement agreement that addresses child support and custody, alimony, and the division of marital property.
While you are not required to obtain legal counsel for an uncontested divorce, if you’re filing based on irreconcilable differences, it’s a good idea to have a divorce lawyer review the settlement agreement to ensure that it’s fair and your rights are protected. A lawyer can also advise you on complicated divorce aspects, such as a family business or retirement plans.
Filing a Divorce Based on Irreconcilable Differences
One party (the “plaintiff”) must file a petition for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences that includes information about both parties and all children involved. The document, referred to as a marital dissolution agreement, must be signed by both parties and notarized. Signing this waives the defendant’s right to receive a copy of the petition by service of process and to file an answer.
Along with the divorce petition, you must submit forms such as financial disclosure and parenting plan. These forms can be obtained by contacting the court in the county where a spouse lives or where the couple lived when you separated.
A filing fee is also required. Fees vary by county and are higher if there are children involved.
Finalizing an Uncontested Divorce
After filing for either type of uncontested divorce, both parties will be required to attend a hearing before the divorce is finalized. There is a mandatory waiting period before the final hearing can be scheduled. If no minor children are involved, the waiting period is 60 days. However, if there are minor children involved, the waiting period is 90 days.
The judge will review the paperwork during the hearing and decide if the agreement shows an “equitable” property settlement. They will also review the child support and custody provisions to ensure they are in the child(ren)’s best interest. If the judge decides the agreements are unfair, you and your spouse can amend the settlement at the hearing.
Once approved, the settlement agreement will be incorporated into your final divorce decree. After the judge signs the divorce decree, your divorce will be final.
Still Have Questions? Turn to Attorney Hunter Fowler.
Even if you want to pursue an uncontested divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your spouse does as well. If you are unable to agree on all aspects of your divorce, you won’t be able to file for an uncontested divorce. If you need help determining if this is the right process for you, enlisting the services of an experienced divorce attorney can be beneficial.
Attorney Hunter Fowler has helped many clients in your position and will be by your side through every step of the divorce proceedings. The divorce process can be complex, but Hunter has an established system to guide you through the process, making it as seamless as possible.
Contact us today for a consultation.