Divorce Attorney in Nashville TN

As a divorce lawyer, J. Ryan Johnson specializes in helping people going through difficult marriages prepare for divorce. An experienced attorney can help you deal with the critical long-term consequences of divorce, and advise you on your best course of action based on your specific circumstances. Whether it’s the custody of your children or the division of your property, Attorney J. Ryan Johnson will aggressively defend your rights before and after your divorce.


By the numbers

Annually, about 3.3% percent of marriages in Tennessee end in divorce. If you’re contemplating a divorce in the Volunteer State, begin by understanding the Tennessee divorce laws governing the process.


Knowledge of the current laws and procedures will help you better navigate the complex legal system and ensure you protect your rights. You’ll be better equipped to confidently make informed decisions and face the potential challenges of divorce in Tennessee.


This comprehensive guide will walk you through the many areas of divorce, providing you with essential information regarding Tennessee’s divorce laws, including residency requirements, the grounds for divorce, how to file for divorce, property division laws, child custody factors, and support issues.


Additionally, we’ll discuss what you need to know about serving divorce papers, the difference between contested and uncontested divorce, and the waiting period for a Tennessee divorce.

Divorce attorney in Nashville TN

Tennessee Divorce Law Residency Requirements

You must meet the following residency requirements for divorce eligibility in Tennessee based on the following conditions:

  • If you or your spouse have resided in Tennessee for at least six months before filing for divorce.
  • If the grounds (or reason) for the divorce occurred during your residence in Tennessee.


These residency requirements ensure that the Tennessee courts have jurisdiction over your divorce case. If you or your spouse do not meet this residency requirement, you must wait until you do before initiating the divorce process in Tennessee.


For military personnel stationed in Tennessee, special considerations apply. Either spouse serving active duty in the U.S. military and stationed in Tennessee may be eligible for residency if they have resided in the state for at least one year.

The Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee

Tennessee offers both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce.


Irreconcilable differences serve as the primary no-fault ground for divorce in Tennessee. This ground allows couples to seek divorce without having to prove fault on the part of either spouse.

Fault-Based Grounds

Tennessee also recognizes several fault-based grounds for divorce, where one spouse is allegedly responsible for the marriage’s breakdown. Fault-based grounds must be proven in court by presenting evidence supporting the claim.

The following list covers many of the fault-based grounds that the state recognizes:


  • Adultery
  • Abandonment, including physical and constructive desertion
  • Separated for two years with no children
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Substance abuse, including drug or alcohol addiction
  • Impotence
  • Married to someone else or pregnant with someone else’s baby at the time of marriage
  • Convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for a felony

How to File for Divorce in Tennessee

Before filing, consult an experienced family law attorney to help guide you and gather essential documents to support your case.

Choose the Correct County Court

In Tennessee, divorces are typically filed in the court of the county where you or your spouse resides or the location for the grounds of the divorce.

Complete Necessary Forms

Obtain these forms from the Tennessee State Courts website. The forms vary depending on the nature of your divorce, whether it’s contested or uncontested, and whether you have children.

Pay the Filing Fees

Filing for divorce in Tennessee comes with associated costs, including filing fees. These fees can vary by county, so checking with your local court for the exact amount is essential. Submit a Request to Postpone Filing Fees and Order if you cannot afford the fee.

Legalities for Serving Divorce Paperwork in Tennessee

Legally, you must notify your spouse when you file for divorce. If your spouse agrees to waive the service of process, you will have fulfilled the requirement for notification.

If not, an authorized individual, such as a sheriff or a process server, physically hands or serves the divorce papers to the spouse. In certain situations, the court may allow service by certified mail with a return receipt requested. However, this method requires a $20 fee.

If the spouse’s whereabouts are unknown, or if they are deliberately avoiding service, the court may permit service by publication in a local newspaper. However, you cannot obtain alimony or child support.

The recipient (the spouse being served) has 30 days from the service date to file a response with the court.

The Difference Between Contested or Uncontested Divorce

In a contested divorce, spouses cannot agree on one or more significant issues, such as child custody, property division, or spousal support. As a result, they must litigate these matters in court, with spouses presenting their cases and a judge ultimately making decisions for them.

Contested divorces often come with lengthy, expensive, and emotionally taxing legal proceedings, the potential for animosity and damaged relationships, and less control over the final outcome. However, court intervention can provide a resolution when communication breaks down.

An uncontested divorce occurs when spouses agree on all divorce-related issues outside of court, including matters like child custody, support, property division, and alimony. Uncontested divorces are often faster, less costly, and less contentious. However, it requires open communication and agreement on all issues.

The Waiting Period for a Tennessee Divorce

Tennessee imposes a mandatory waiting period for divorces. This waiting period serves as a cooling-off period, allowing spouses to reconsider their decision and potentially reconcile. It also provides time for the legal process to unfold.

In Tennessee, the minimum waiting period for a divorce involving no minor children is 60 days from the date of filing the divorce complaint. For divorces with minor children, the waiting period is longer: 90 days. This extended period is designed to ensure that parents carefully consider the impact of divorce on their children and make appropriate arrangements.

Use the waiting period wisely to gather information and make informed decisions. Consult with a divorce attorney, mediate or negotiate with your spouse to reach agreements on important issues, and assess your financial situation for post-divorce financial stability.

Overview of Child Custody and Support in Tennessee

Tennessee’s child custody and support laws prioritize the child’s well-being and aim to ensure that custody and support arrangements are fair and in the child’s best interests. For parents going through divorce or seeking modifications to existing orders, consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate these complex matters successfully.


Factors Considered in Custody Decisions

  • The child’s preferences if they are mature enough to express them.
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment.
  • How a proposed custody arrangement will affect the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.
  • The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate and facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • History of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence and the safety of the child.

Property Division in Tennessee Divorces

During a divorce proceeding in Tennessee, the division of property occurs, with the marital assets being split while the separate property remains unaffected.

Marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Separate property generally includes assets or debts acquired before the marriage and gifts or inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage, provided they are kept separate from marital assets.

Tennessee follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property in a divorce. While marital property is divided fairly, it’s not necessarily an equal 50/50 division. The court aims to ensure a just and equitable outcome based on the case’s specific circumstances.

When determining what is fair and equitable, the court considers various factors, including each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, and their respective financial situations.

Spousal Support (Alimony) in Tennessee

In cases where one spouse requires financial assistance and the other possesses the necessary resources, Tennessee courts have the authority to order alimony for a temporary or long-term period.

In making this decision, the court considers the following factors:

  • Both spouses’ financial resources and needs, including their incomes, assets, and debts.
  • The length of the marriage, with longer marriages resulting in more extended or indefinite alimony awards.
  • Maintenance of the recipient spouse’s standard of living as closely as possible to what they enjoyed during the marriage.
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, both financial and non-financial, such as homemaking or support for the other spouse’s career.

Seek Legal Help From an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Tennessee

With the knowledge and guidance in this comprehensive guide, you’re now better prepared to take on the challenges and intricacies of navigating Tennessee divorce laws. We’ve covered the most important topics and concepts to ensure you’re well-informed at every step.

However, an online guide can’t replace a skilled attorney’s professional expertise and personalized advice. Every divorce case entails a unique set of circumstances. Take the next step and seek expert legal counsel for invaluable support specific to your situation.

If you’re considering filing for divorce in Tennessee or have questions about the process, we urge you to reach out to the law office of J. Ryan Johnson. We’ll take the time to understand your case and defend your rights for a fair outcome. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today, and let us support you during this challenging time.