Getting a No-Fault Divorce in Tennessee

April 05, 2023

Is Tennessee a No-fault Divorce State?

Prior to the 1970s, couples seeking a divorce in most states needed to provide proof that their spouse did not adhere to the terms of their marriage contract in order to legally dissolve their marriage. This type of divorce is known as a fault-based divorce. In contrast, a no-fault divorce does not require any evidence of wrongdoing. Today, all 50 states recognize no-fault divorces, and it is the most common choice among individuals looking to end their marriages.

Some states only perform no-fault divorces and are known as “true” no-fault states. Tennessee does not fall into this category because it provides both fault-based and no-fault options to couples seeking a divorce. Divorce is never easy, but a no-fault divorce can often be simpler and faster for couples who meet the qualifications. If you are considering a no-fault divorce in Tennessee, a Nashville divorce lawyer can explain the process and requirements, so you have a thorough understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities.

What Are Your Options for a No-fault Divorce in Tennessee?

Tennessee recognizes two grounds for divorce that do not require individuals to prove fault:

  • Irreconcilable differences: This is the most frequently cited grounds for divorce nationwide. Essentially, you are claiming that you and your spouse are unable to continue your marriage, but you are not placing blame on either party. It’s important to note that couples must meet specific guidelines to use this no-fault option in Tennessee.
  • Two years of separation with no minor children: Legal separation while remaining married is an option for couples in Tennessee. If they choose to separate and live in different residences for two years without reconciliation, then a spouse may file for this type of no-fault divorce. However, this divorce option is only available to couples who do not have minor children.

What Issues Must Be Handled if You Wish to Divorce Under Irreconcilable Differences?

Irreconcilable differences can only be used as valid grounds for a divorce in Tennessee if both parties can come to a complete agreement about all aspects of the divorce. As part of this type of no-fault divorce, you and your ex-spouse must create a marital dissolution agreement.

This agreement documents your plan for important subjects, such as:

  • Alimony/spousal support
  • Property distribution
  • Handling of debts
  • Splitting of pension plans, retirements, etc.

If minor children are involved, a parenting plan must also be created. The parenting plan will include your agreement for child custody, visitation rights, and child support payments. You may require the services of a divorce lawyer or trained mediator to work out the details of these documents. Once you have agreed on all aspects of the divorce, you must present the documents to the court for approval. This step ensures that one side is not taking advantage of the other and the children’s best interests are being considered.

Once you have a court-approved marital dissolution agreement and a parenting plan, no litigation should be necessary, and you should be able to complete your no-fault divorce. If either party contests the divorce or you have an unresolved divorce issue, you cannot continue under the grounds of irreconcilable differences. At this point, you will need to look into other methods of proceeding with your divorce. Often, the Court will have certain provisions or language that it requires before approving the documents and granting the divorce.

What Are the Advantages of a No-fault Divorce?

When a couple finds themselves unable to continue their marriage, it is often the beginning of a painful and difficult time. A contentious divorce makes the situation even harder, particularly if children are involved. A fault-based divorce requires one spouse to provide proof of their partner’s breach of the marriage contract. Presenting the necessary facts during a trial can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for everyone involved.

While a no-fault divorce isn’t possible in every situation, it has many advantages. It allows couples to end their marriage on their own terms and work out the details of important issues, such as child custody and alimony, on their own. It also removes the need to place blame for the marriage’s breakdown on one party and keeps a family’s personal affairs out of the courtroom and off the public record. However, there are still many technicalities of language needed for the documents to be acceptable and approved by the Court. This is where our experienced attorneys can help.

How Long Does Getting a No-fault Divorce in Tennessee Take?

Every divorce will follow a different timeline, although no-fault divorces tend to be faster than fault-based divorces because they require no litigation and little involvement from the court. The length of the no-fault divorce process generally depends upon how quickly you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of your marital dissolution agreement. In most cases, a no-fault divorce can be completed in two to six months.

Under Tennessee law, at least 60 days must elapse between the filing of the original complaint and the initial divorce hearing. If you have minor children, the minimum waiting period increases to 90 days. Additionally, parents must complete a mandatory parenting class that teaches about the potential impact of divorce and custody agreements on children before the court will allow the divorce to proceed.

How Can an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Assist You?

If you are considering a no-fault divorce in Tennessee, we highly recommend consulting a knowledgeable divorce lawyer before you even begin the complaint process. Your lawyer can explain what to expect, advise you on how to correctly file the necessary documents, and provide you with guidance every step of the way. Divorce is never easy, but Brighter Day Law can help you navigate this challenging time so you can move smoothly into the next stage of your life. Contact our law firm today to learn more about our services: 615-437-8808.

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