Usually, when a couple decides to get divorced, they want it over with as quickly as possible.
In most States of America there’s a delay in paperwork, the courts get backed up and no matter how quickly the married pair want to be legally disconnected, it’s never instant.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Tennessee?
Most divorces in Tennessee take between two to six months to complete. However, if the divorce is contentious or the estate contains complex assets that may require an expert valuation, it could take 18 months or even two years.
In very unusual circumstances, divorce can take much longer.
No initial divorce hearing may be held in Tennessee before 60 days have passed since the complaint was filed. Additionally, 90 days must pass if the marriage produces minor children—36-4-101 of the Tennessee Code Annotated (b).
Both spouses should be informed of how long it can take to get a divorce and what they might do to keep the process going smoothly to prepare for Tennessee family court hearings.
This means that attempting to resolve disputes through negotiation, mediation, and other means wherever possible, could well help speed up, the divorce.
Tennessee Jurisdiction and Residency
There must be a relationship between Tennessee, the parties, the children, and the subject matter in every divorce case brought in this state. The case must be dismissed if the court cannot prove its jurisdiction over the divorce.
If the Tennessee court lacks the legal authority to hear the matter, then, filing at that court is a waste of your time, money, and resources.
Has your spouse resided here for at least six months?
To start the case here in Tennessee, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Tennessee for six months. That establishes a domicile, so that the matter can proceed.
- If there are emergency grounds for divorce within this state, there can be an exception to the six-month residency requirement. T.C.A. Section 26-4-104 (a).
- If a spouse has only been a resident for four months, one alternative, is to wait another two months before filing.
- If it is neither practical nor realistic, then it could be preferable to file for divorce in a different state where residency can be established.
Are the spouses residing apart in several states?
It could be more practical to file in the state where the other spouse resides when the couple lives in different states (of course, depending on the particular circumstances).
Time could be saved by doing what is more practical and effective. No divorce, no matter how simple and pleasant it is, can be guaranteed to go smoothly. There is always a possibility of delays.
The Under 18 Years Old Children of the Couple
The child must have lived in Tennessee for the previous six months to determine child custody (legal decision-making and parenting time). T.C.A. Section 36-6-216. Domestic abuse could be one legal exception. This is yet another crucial jurisdictional factor.
It can be difficult and complex to determine if Tennessee is the child’s home state and figuring it out frequently necessitates additional preparation time and court appearances.
Time To Draft the Divorce Complaint
Beyond completing the residency requirement, there is no waiting period before submitting. The stated grounds for divorce and if the couples have small children will both influence how long it takes the spouse to write the initial pleading, the complaint for divorce.
Is a name change being requested by a spouse? A spouse has the option to request a name change in the divorce complaint.
Avoiding the need to submit a name-change petition later, saves time and money. If all other name change conditions are met, the court may issue a straightforward order in this case.
Time for Process Service
The summons and complaint must be served on the other spouse following the filing of the divorce complaint with the Clerk of the Court.
Personal service by a private process server or deputy sheriff, as well as service by certified mail, are the preferred ways to serve the other spouse. Both tasks might be completed in a few days. (If the opposite party signs the waiver of service of process, things proceed more quickly.)
Are the defendant’s whereabouts unknown?
If the other spouse’s location is unknown, it could be required to publish a notice in a newspaper in the county where they last resided.
The process of providing service through publication may take several weeks or more and should only be undertaken when all other options have failed.
Depending on the situation, the judge may demand ongoing efforts to warn the defendant through newspaper advertisements over an extended period.
The Deadline for Answering the Initial Divorce Complaint
The defendant-spouse has 30 days after being served with the summons and complaint to respond to the accusations by filing a responsive pleading and any counter complaint for divorce.
Is one of the parties a military spouse?
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can offer a military spouse more time to submit a responsive pleading when the other spouse is serving in the military on active duty or while on deployment. Check out 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501, et seq.
Under the principle, the SCRA safeguards the rights of service members by permitting the deferral of administrative actions and civil cases (including those involving divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and other issues) in specific circumstances.
The SCRA may extend the deadline for filing an answer in divorce cases so that the military spouse has a reasonable amount of time to get ready for the family law proceedings.
Tennessee Divorce with Children
Do the spouses have kids together? Both parents will attend a parenting course on the effects of divorce and custody battles on kids when there is a child from the marriage.
The course will be certified by the court. The parenting class is necessary because it requires a certificate of completion. The course only lasts four hours, and there are no set class times.
In cases of a divorce involving children, the court will also mandate mediation with a facilitator to support the spouses in resolving parenting conflicts and constructing a parenting schedule that both parties can agree upon.
Alternative dispute resolution (mediation) sessions may be necessary, particularly in circumstances of high conflict custody.
The length of the mediation and whether it primarily succeeds in removing problems from the trial’s agenda are both highly controllable by the parties.
Settlement and Divorce Settlement Agreements
Are the partners reconciled?
If there is such a thing as a quick divorce, settlement is the fastest route to getting one.
The case almost always moves along more swiftly when the parties have a settlement agreement (also known as a marital divorce agreement), and, if applicable, a parenting plan agreement.
If the court accepts the settlement, there won’t need to be a trial.
However, the discovery procedure and depositions can take a lot of attorney time in contentious matters. The judge will make decisions on the many pre-trial motions that are frequently submitted and scheduled for hearings.
If there are children, no divorce shall be heard by the judge, counting from the date of the complaint, until at least ninety days have elapsed.
Or, if there are no children, 60 days following the filing of the case.
Although the hearing can be scheduled, it won’t start until the waiting period has elapsed.
Couples have the opportunity to let their feelings settle and mull over the prospect of reconciliation during this relatively short time frame.
Will There Be a Divorce Trial in a Contested Divorce in Tennessee?
Divorce cases must be scheduled on the judge’s calendar. Be ready because rescheduling is frequently necessary. Delays do occur, and you will need to find patience as this can be enormously frustrating.
Is there conflict in the divorce, or not?
In an uncontested divorce, all issues are agreed upon by both parties. There are no contentious issues upon which the judge needs to decide.
Consider the 60- or 90-day waiting periods, the discovery process, any necessary proceedings, and enough time for the court to issue its ruling.
However, if there is a dispute, the divorce process could last anywhere from six months to more than two years.
How much strife exists?
High conflict cases may take longer because the parties are less likely to agree on issues like monthly alimony or how to fairly divide their retirement plans as marital assets.
Each contested issue adds a certain level of complication to the trial. For instance, a forensic child custody evaluation is frequently necessary to determine who will have final decision-making authority and who will be the primary residential parent.
The procedure for the forensic child custody evaluation can take six months to a year.
The actual study could span a single day or several weeks. Some trials last for several months.
Everything is dependent on the particular circumstances, the questions to be answered, and how complicated those questions ultimately prove to be. For instance, a child psychologist or child psychiatrist may testify as an expert witness in a contentious child custody lawsuit.
Even more courtroom time will be required for a fight of the experts.
The divorce decree may not be entered for another week or more if the court decides.
A party unhappy with the trial court’s final ruling may thereafter submit a request for reconsideration. Reconsideration could cause the court’s decision to be delayed even further if the motion is granted.
The final ruling of the court may be appealed by one or both parties. Within 30 days following the entry of the final decree, an appeal must be filed promptly. It can take six to 18 months for the Tennessee Court of Appeals to review the case.
Final Thoughts on How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Tennessee?
However long your divorce takes, your patience, willingness to co-operate regarding disagreements, staying calm, and speed in providing written information when required, will go a long way to enabling the timeous progress of your divorce.
Negative reaction, outbursts and resentfulness by either Spouse will delay the divorce.
You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that Tennessee has a relatively reasonable divorce time frame compared with many other States.