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Deciding to Divorce: Things to Consider Before Filing


The dissolution of a marriage, known legally and colloquially as divorce, is often a complicated matter, both practically and emotionally. The decision to end a marriage can affect numerous lives besides those of the couple directly involved – such as children, in-laws and other extended family members. Inherently personal in nature, it is often a difficult topic to discuss in purely pragmatic terms, but this can be beneficial to all parties if they are able to do so. Here are a few things couples considering divorce can think about and plan for in advance to make the transition as smooth as possible.

There is a waiting period.
If the couple seeking divorce does not have any minor children, there is a waiting period of sixty (75+) days after filing the petition before the matter can be heard. This is extended to ninety (90) days if the couple has minor children in their custody at the time of filing. Since the decision to start the divorce process is often born of an intense argument or highly emotional discussion, these waiting periods allow for the possibility of the parties to reconcile or at least rethink the decision to divorce between the point of filing and the formal hearing.

Couples can also file for legal separation.
Legal separation is provided for in the same chapter of the Tennessee Code Annotated as divorce, and the grounds required are identical. This petition asks the court to deem the couple legally separated, and outlines grounds just as the formal petition for divorce. When a couple decides to legally separate, they may later reconcile without the requirement to remarry, or if they so choose, continue on to formal divorce proceedings. This option may be best suited for couples who are not ready to fully dissolve the marriage but require assistance from the court with matters such as child custody, visitation, etc.

Cooperation is still possible.
Even if a couple has explored every avenue short of formal divorce proceedings and has come to the difficult decision to file, there are still opportunities along the way to cooperate with one another in this final act of their union. We will explore contested versus non-contested divorces in a later post in this series, but there are numerous matters that can be agreed upon by the parties instead of requiring adjudication by the courts, therefore streamlining the process and reducing the tension created. Mediation is also a valuable tool when navigating the details of a divorce – allowing for evolving discussion and resolution of disputed matters in a more relaxed setting while receiving the support and structure of a trained mediator.

This blog is made available by Santel | Garner for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a general overview of the law, not provide specific legal advice. By using this blog and website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Santel | Garner . This blog and website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.