Six Steps to Divorce in Tennessee

A divorce is a true emotional trauma in anyone’s life. Your family and your assets are thrown into a sort of limbo, with the outcome unknown until the final judgment is rendered. And in between filing and final statements, a lot has to happen. Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law can help you make sense of everything that’s happening, starting by breaking down the divorce proceedings into six basic steps.


– Filing a complaint. Every divorce starts by filing a complaint. This document is filed by the Plaintiff, along with a Certificate of Divorce, in order to initiate the legal proceedings. Once the complaint is filed, a Summons will be served to the other spouse, also referred to as the Defendant. Typically the Sheriff’s office or a private process server does the serving, though Summons can also be served by mail.


– Responding with an answer and counter-complaint. Once the Summons has been served, the Defendant has the opportunity to file their own version of things. Often times, this answer and counter-complain will directly deny the contents of the Plaintiff’s complaint, and may request certain maintenance or payments from the Plaintiff, similar to what the Plaintiff can request in the initial complaint.


– Temporary Hearing. Very often in divorce cases, temporary issues arise that need the immediate attention of the court. A temporary hearing can be held for the court to make temporary determinations such as payment of marital expenses, visitation, possession of the marital home and support while the divorce is pending.


– The process of discovery. Once both parties have made their claims, the court requires that all pertinent information be revealed, including assets, income, specifics about the marriage and more. This information must be produced within 30 days. Your attorney may also want to depose your spouse to see how they act and present themselves.


With all of the facts in the open, both spouses will try to come to an agreement on how to divide up assets, schedule support and determine custody of children. This can often be the final step of a divorce in Tennessee. This process is called mediation, where a neutral mediator assists both sides in reaching a settlement. It is only when these negotiations break down that a divorce must go to trial, but in most cases mediation is preferred to resolve differences through negotiation rather than a trial, which can be unpredictable.


– Going to trial. If both spouses cannot reach an agreement, then the divorce moves to trial, where a judge will order the final division of property and other matters pertaining to the divorce. A trial can include presentation of evidence, cross-examination of witnesses as well as testimony from expert witnesses. This can be a time-consuming and costly procedure, but if an agreement cannot be reached, it is necessary in order for a judge to determine who to grant a divorce to and how to settle questions like child custody and spousal support.


At Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law, our family law attorneys work with clients in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County and surrounding areas. If you are facing the prospect of divorce, trust our family law attorneys to get through this difficult time. We understand the nuances of family law, as well as the importance of reaching a conclusion and judgment that is in your best interest. We encourage anyone who is filing for divorce or has been served papers for a divorce to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.