Below are answers to questions frequently asked by men and women regarding uncontested divorces. Please remember the answers and the information contained on this web site are based on general facts and might not apply to specific factual situations. The information contained on this web site is not meant to be specific legal advice. Always consult a lawyer to apply the law to your specific facts and state. If you still have questions, contact us at (865) 546-1111 for your FREE consultation today!
What is an Agreed to or Uncontested Divorce?
A divorce is uncontested when both parties agree on all issues including the division of debts, assets, child custody and child visitation.
In Tennessee, every divorce must have at least one “ground”, i.e., a legal basis. Common grounds for divorce are:
- Inappropriate Marital Conduct,
- Habitual Drunkenness or Abuse of Narcotic Drugs, and
- Irreconcilable Differences
With the exception of irreconcilable differences, all of the grounds for divorce are based on a spouse’s fault. Put another way, to obtain a divorce on a fault-based ground, you must prove that your spouse is guilty of that particular ground.
With an irreconcilable differences divorce, the parties are saying that they have differences so great that they cannot continue to live together as a married couple and there is no way that their marriage can be reconciled. Irreconcilable differences is not a fault-based ground, thus the parties are not alleging any fault by either party.
To obtain an irreconcilable differences divorce in Tennessee, you must agree on every aspect of the dissolution of your marriage. This means that there must be complete agreements on the division of all property, debts, and (if there are any minor children) all co-parenting arrangements. If there are any disagreements, even relatively trivial ones, you cannot obtain a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences. Because of this, irreconcilable differences divorces are also known as uncontested or agreed divorces.
Can One Attorney Represent the Husband and Wife if the Divorce is Uncontested?
One attorney can draft the paperwork for the divorce, but the best practice for the attorney to represent only one person to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Can I Be Divorced Quicker if the Divorce is Uncontested?
Generally speaking it is much quicker to get divorced if the divorce is uncontested. A judge might waive some or all of the waiting period for good cause and if both parties request the waiver in writing.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Tennessee?
An uncontested divorce is the fastest way to get divorced in Tennessee. While it’s true that some divorces can last for several months or even years, those are the cases where spouses are fighting each other over every detail. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in as little as two or three months.
Why would it take even 2-3 months? Tennessee law (T.C.A. 36-4-101) provides for what is commonly referred to as a “cooling off period”. This law requires that divorces be on file for at least 60 days (or 90 days if the parties have children under the age of 18) before the they can be finalized. There is no way around the statutory waiting period. This means that the earliest a divorce could possibly be granted in Tennessee is on the 61st day (or 91st day if minor children are involved) after filing.
Do I Need My Own Attorney if My Spouse's Attorney is willing to Prepare the Uncontested Divorce Documents??
It is generally a good idea to hire your own attorney to at least review the documents prepared by your spouse’s attorney so you can be advised on your rights before you sign and the divorce is finalized. Your spouse’s attorney is representing your spouse and is looking out for your spouse’s best interests. Sometimes there are a variety of ways to handle an issue in a decree of divorce with one way being more beneficial to one party and another way being more beneficial to the other party. It is prudent to make sure you are aware of the various legal options before finalizing the paperwork.
Is an Uncontested Divorce Right for Me?
You may very well wish to pursue an uncontested divorce, however, it takes two to tango. If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to dissolve your marriage, then you will not be able to initiate an uncontested divorce. This doesn’t mean that you are stuck having to go to trial, it simply means the divorce will not commence with an agreement in place.
If you need help deciding if this is the right process for you, our experienced family law attorneys can consult with you help explain all your options. Please contact us and we’ll guide you through any divorce, contested or not.
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