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How To File For A Divorce In Tennessee

In 2019, there were approximately 2.7 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in the US. This figure fluctuates as you go from state to state with Maine holding the bottom spot with the lowest divorce rates in the country. 
Arkansas has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of divorces in the US. World Population Review puts this figure at nearly 11 divorces per 1,000 individuals. However, other statistics put it at 26 divorces per 1,000 married women. Perhaps not surprisingly then, the state also holds the number one spot for the longest time on average for a divorce to be processed. Processing times in Arkansas are over 500 days minimum. 
Tennessee has also been held up at times as having one of America’s worst divorce rates. However, those figures have improved in recent years. There are now about 3.2 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in Tennessee each year compared to 6.5 per 1,000 back in 1990. 
If you are looking to file a divorce in in the state of Tennessee, how do you go about it, and what does the process involve?
How do you file for divorce in Tennessee?
Getting divorced can be complicated, and this gets more so when children, or a business, are involved. If your spouse wants to contest the divorce this adds more complications and stress also. Here are the steps to filing for divorce.
1 Fill out a Complaint for Divorce
After speaking with a GSRM attorney the following steps for filing for divorce were laid out – the initial step to filing for separation is to fill out the form known as Complaint for Divorce. You will need to provide certain information on this form about when you were married and where, assets and debts, and any children legally in your care.
You will also have to explain the grounds for your separation and if you are seeking a no-fault/fault divorce. There are various reasons you can use for fault/no-fault grounds.
Grounds for no-fault divorce
2-year separation with no minors in either spouse’s care
Irreconcilable differences
Grounds for a fault-based divorce
Substance abuse
Inappropriate marital conduct – emotional or physical abuse for example
Abandonment or neglect
Conviction of various crimes
Wilful desertion for 12 months or more
There are more reasons for fault divorces than these, but they are the more commonly used options. One other option is if one spouse refuses to join the other in Tennessee resulting in a 2-year separation.
2 File the form and pay the fee
You will need to take the completed Complaint for Divorce to the Clerk of Court and pay the fee. The divorce fee in Tennessee is $302, but if you are not in a position to pay, you can ask for a postponement.
Unlike Arkansas, Tennessee has very reasonable divorce processing times. There is a minimum processing time of 60 days on average, although contested cases will take longer overall due to the court time needed.
3 Time to serve your spouse
If you and your spouse have both agreed to divorce then you may wish to take advantage of Tennessee’s option of delivering your Complaint and Summons by mail. Your spouse will have to sign a Waiver of Service of Process. This is needed as acknowledgement that they received it.
If you don’t feel that your spouse will sign the waiver then you can get a Sheriff’s deputy or a process server to deliver the papers. When one spouse is being difficult it is not a good idea to divorce without a lawyer.
Is it best to use a local divorce attorney?
There are more steps to be taken before you can be divorced including settlement negotiations and perhaps mediation. However, the initial filing for divorce is complete at this point, and you will perhaps be looking for a divorce lawyer if you haven’t already.
A local lawyer is recommended for several reasons. They will be available and able to meet easier than an out-of-town attorney – useful if something urgent comes up. There will be no travel fees involved, and they know the local legal network and judges on the circuit. 
How will your assets be divided?
Tennessee uses equitable distribution as opposed to community property. What this means is that your assets and debts won’t necessarily be split exactly down the middle, but instead be distributed in what is judged to be an equitable and fair compensation for each spouse.
This means that one spouse may receive the family home, while another could take control of business interests instead. Settlements on assets and debts will be handled smoother when both sides can come to some agreement. Family law is important in these areas as well as custody arrangements, as it can help with mediation and avoid messy situations.
The process for filing in Tennessee is reasonably straightforward. Once the papers have been filed, paid for, and served, then other steps need to be taken so that a divorce can be finalized.
Often it is wise to involve a divorce attorney at this point, especially if the other spouse is contesting the divorce. Third-party mediation can help divorces in Tennessee to end smoothly and in many cases amicably.

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