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Tennessee Divorce Information

The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of Tennessee divorce.

You can get more specific information regarding Tennessee divorce laws using the links provided to Tennessee divorce laws or at your local library.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Before taking any action you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the laws in the state in which you will be seeking a divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Tennessee Divorce Resources

Residency Requirements A divorce may be granted if the acts complained of were committed while the plaintiff was a bona fide resident of this state or if the acts complained of were committed out of this state and the plaintiff resided out of the state at the time, if the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in this state six (6) months next preceding the filing of the complaint.

For the purposes of this section, any person in the armed services of the United States, or the spouse of any such person, who has been living in this state for a period of not less than one (1) year shall be presumed to be a resident of this state, and the presumption of residence shall be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence of a domicile elsewhere
Where to File The bill or petition may be filed in the proper name of the complainant, in the chancery or circuit court or other court having divorce jurisdiction, in the county where the parties reside at the time of their separation, or in which the defendant resides, if a resident of the state; but if the defendant is a nonresident of the state or a convict, then in the county where the applicant resides
Grounds for Divorce The following are causes of divorce from the bonds of matrimony:
  • Either party, at the time of the contract, was and still is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation
  • Either party has knowingly entered into a second marriage, in violation of a previous marriage, still subsisting
  • Either party has committed adultery
  • Willful or malicious desertion or absence of either party, without a reasonable cause, for one (1) whole year
  • Being convicted of any crime which, by the laws of the state, renders the party infamous
  • Being convicted of a crime which, by the laws of the state, is declared to be a felony, and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary
  • Either party has attempted the life of the other, by poison or any other means showing malice
  • Refusal, on the part of a spouse, to remove with that person's spouse to this state, without a reasonable cause, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two (2) years
  • The woman was pregnant at the time of the marriage, by another person, without the knowledge of the husband
  • Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of either party, when the spouse has contracted either such habit after marriage
  • The husband or wife is guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as renders cohabitation unsafe and improper which may also be referred to in pleadings as inappropriate marital conduct
  • The husband or wife has offered such indignities to the spouse's person as to render the spouse's position intolerable, and thereby forced the spouse to withdraw
  • The husband or wife has abandoned the spouse or turned the spouse out of doors for no just cause, and has refused or neglected to provide for the spouse while having the ability to so provide
  • Irreconcilable differences between the parties and
  • For a continuous period of two (2) or more years which commenced prior to or after April 18, 1985, both parties have lived in separate residences, have not cohabited as man and wife during such period, and there are no minor children of the parties
Voluntary or required mediation Yes
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution In all actions for divorce or legal separation, the court having jurisdiction thereof may, upon request of either party, and prior to any determination as to whether it is appropriate to order the support and maintenance of one (1) party by the other, equitably divide, distribute or assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital fault in proportions as the court deems just.

In all actions for legal separation, the court, in its discretion, may equitably divide, distribute, or assign the marital property in whole or in part, or reserve the division or assignment of marital property until a later time. If the court makes a final distribution of marital property at the time of the decree of legal separation, any after-acquired property is separate property.

In making equitable division of marital property, the court shall consider all relevant factors including:
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age, physical and mental health, vocational skills, employability, earning capacity, estate, financial liabilities and financial needs of each of the parties
  • The tangible or intangible contribution by one (1) party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party
  • The relative ability of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, depreciation or dissipation of the marital or separate property, including the contribution of a party to the marriage as homemaker, wage earner or parent, with the contribution of a party as homemaker or wage earner to be given the same weight if each party has fulfilled its role
  • The value of the separate property of each party
  • The estate of each party at the time of the marriage
  • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective
  • The tax consequences to each party, costs associated with the reasonably foreseeable sale of the asset, and other reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the asset
  • The amount of social security benefits available to each spouse
  • Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties
Child Custody In a suit for annulment, divorce, separate maintenance, or in any other proceeding requiring the court to make a custody determination regarding a minor child, such determination shall be made upon the basis of the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including the following where applicable:
  • The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child
  • The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver
  • The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment; provided, that where there is a finding, under § 36-6-106(8), of child abuse, as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402, or child sexual abuse, as defined in § 37-1-602, by one (1) parent, and that a non-perpetrating parent has relocated in order to flee the perpetrating parent, that such relocation shall not weigh against an award of custody
  • The stability of the family unit of the parents
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The home, school and community record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children
  • Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; provided, that where there are allegations that one (1) parent has committed child abuse, [as defined in § 39-15-401 or § 39-15-402], or child sexual abuse, [as defined in § 37-1-602], against a family member, the court shall consider all evidence relevant to the physical and emotional safety of the child, and determine, by a clear preponderance of the evidence, whether such abuse has occurred. The court shall include in its decision a written finding of all evidence, and all findings of facts connected thereto. In addition, the court shall, where appropriate, refer any issues of abuse to the juvenile court for further proceedings
  • The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person's interactions with the child
  • Each parent's past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities, including the willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child
Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, the court has jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination regarding a minor child or may modify a prior order of child custody upon finding that the custodial parent has been convicted of or found civilly liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent or legal guardian
Child Support Either or both of the parents may be ordered to provide child support. The factors for consideration are as follows:
  • The financial resources of the child
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved
  • The physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child
  • The financial resources, needs, and obligations of the parents
  • The earning capacity of each parent
  • The age and health of the child
  • The monetary and non-monetary contributions of each parent to the well-being of the child
  • Any pension or retirement benefits of the parents
  • Whether the non-custodial parent's visitation is over 110 days per year or under 55 days per year
  • Any other relevant factors
Spousal Support Spousal support may take the form of lump sum, periodic, or rehabilitative support. Spousal support may be awarded to either spouse, based on a consideration of the following:
  • The value of any separate property and the value of the spouse's share of any marital property
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony is the custodian of a child whose circumstances make it appropriate for that spouse not to seek outside employment
  • The need for sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market and any retirement, pension, or profit-sharing benefits
  • The needs and obligations of each spouse
  • The tangible and intangible contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, childcare, and contributions to the education, earning capacity, and career-building of the other spouse
  • The relative education and training of the spouses and the opportunity of each party to secure education and training
  • The age of the spouses
  • The physical and mental condition of the spouse
  • The tax consequences to each spouse
  • The usual occupation of the spouses during the marriage
  • The vocational skills and employability of the spouse seeking alimony
  • The conduct of the spouses during the marriage
  • Any other factor the court deems just and equitable

Tennessee Divorce Attorneys by County

Tennesse Divorce Mediators by County

This information has been compiled directly from the most recently available statutes online for each state. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is correct and complete. Be aware that laws frequently change. Do not take any action based on this information without first consulting an attorney to be certain that the laws pertaining to your particular situation have not changed.

The language used in most cases on this page is legal terminology taken directly from the statutes and laws of each state. The terminology is not always easy to understand. If you are not sure of something you should consult an attorney so that you can fully understand the meaning of the laws.

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