Tennessee Divorce Guide

Legal Separation

A Legal Separation is a legal process Separationwhere a party to a marriage petitions the court to legally separate the parties in all manner except their marital status. The process will require a Separation Agreement document, and should resolve all issues surrounding the marriage except the status of the marriage. Issues to be resolved include custody of any minor child, financial support of child and/or the dependent spouse, and a plan for dividing the marital assets.

Unlike in a divorce, where the defendant can deny the existence of a ground offered, the defendant to a legal separation may not object to a ground claimed in petition for legal separation. Unless the defendant specifically objects to the granting of an order of legal separation, the court will declare the parties to be legally separated. If the other party specifically objects to legal separation, the court may, after a hearing, grant an order of legal separation, notwithstanding such objections if grounds are established.

The court also has the power to grant an absolute divorce to either party where there has been an order of legal separation for more than two (2) years upon a petition being filed by either party that sets forth the original order for legal separation and that the parties have not become reconciled. The court granting the divorce will make a final and complete adjudication of the support and property rights of the parties. However, nothing in this subsection will preclude the court from granting an absolute divorce before the two-year period has expired.


If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.

The court has the power to grant an absolute divorce to either party where there has been an Order of Legal Separation for more than two (2) years.

Residency Requirements

Tennessee divorce laws require that in order for your divorce petition to be accepted and processed in this state, the acts of marital misbehavior must have been committed while the plaintiff was a resident of the state. If the acts complained of were committed outside of Tennessee and the plaintiff resided outside of the state at the time, either of the parties must have resided in Tennessee for six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition.

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