Tennessee’s Do-It-Yourself DivorceIn limited circumstances, it is possible to get an “agreed divorce” in Tennessee without hiring an attorney. The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved divorce forms that, if properly completed, must be accepted by all Tennessee courts that hear divorce cases. These forms and their instructions can be found at www.tncourts.gov/help-center/court-approved-divorce-forms. I’m sure you’re wondering why an attorney is sharing this information with you. For two reasons. First, the vast majority of divorces do not meet the criteria to obtain an agreed divorce. Second, getting divorced is not a simple process, no matter how simple it is made to sound.
You only qualify for the Tennessee agreed divorce process if the following apply to your situation:
You will have to follow the instructions carefully and will have no one to ask for help.
- You and your spouse have no children under the age of 18, or disabled, or still in high school
- The wife is not pregnant now
- You don’t own real property (your home, condo, other buildings or land)
- You or your spouse don’t own a business
- You or your spouse don’t have any retirement benefits
- You both want to end your marriage and can agree on how to divide your property (including alimony) and are both willing to sign a marital dissolution agreement.
- You can locate your spouse.
The instructions state that an agreed divorce is easier, faster and costs less than a regular divorce. None of those statements are true. An agreed divorce, one where you as a layperson do all the work, is not an easy process. One look at the forms and their instructions and you will agree. An agreed divorce cannot be obtained any faster by you than by someone who hires an attorney. A divorce obtained on the basis of irreconcilable differences (the technical term for “agreed divorce”) can be granted after a 60 day waiting period if there are no minor children and 90 days if there are minor children. Rarely are all issues ironed out within that period of time. It is possible, but not typical. Court costs are the same whether you file for divorce yourself or an attorney files for you. The only savings come from not having to pay attorney fees. I must point out that even though you could probably change a car’s transmission by watching YouTube videos and reading about it online, is it really something that you want to spend the time and effort doing all by yourself?
Getting divorced is complicated. Don’t try to go it alone, even if you meet the above criteria. If you and your spouse truly agree to all the details of your divorce, then your attorney’s fees shouldn’t be outrageous. Look at the forms and instructions on the website for agreed divorces. Five pages of instructions, at least eight forms, and warnings every paragraph advising that you talk to a lawyer. This is for couples who have no children, don’t own a home, and have no retirement plans in place.
Many people are cost conscious and don’t want to spend money unnecessarily, especially on attorney’s fees. But getting a divorce ranks up there with getting married, having children, buying a house. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish with this important event in your life.
More information on divorce, custody, support, and asset division.
Divorce Flow Chart
15 Divorce tips
Tennessee Divorce Information
Tennessee Divorce Mediation Process
Tennessee Child Custody Law
Tennessee Child Support Law
Tennessee Child Adoption Law
More informationAfter reviewing the above if you have questions and need our assistance in a divorce matter, please call us at (901) 756-7878.