Can I start the divorce process before I tell my spouse?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2024 | Divorce

Unlike many states, Tennessee is not purely a no-fault divorce state. Couples can establish grounds for divorce by proving marital faults like substance abuse, conviction of a felony or neglect. However, the state also has a no-fault-based divorce option in which couples can amicably agree to divorce due to irreconcilable differences or opt for a two-year separation with no minor children.

Suppose you are filing a fault-based divorce; you may wonder if you can start the divorce process before telling your spouse. The answer to that question depends on whether you plan to take a fault-based or no-fault approach and whether you hope to resolve your differences in an uncontested way or not.

Requirements for a divorce in Tennessee

The only way to get a divorce in the Volunteer State if your spouse doesn’t want it is to gather sufficient evidence to prove marital fault. This may involve finding audio or video recordings, eyewitness testimonies or financial documents. Aside from establishing marital fault, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to the divorce filing. If you can fulfill these two requirements, you can file for divorce immediately.

Is separation necessary before filing for divorce?

The state court doesn’t require divorcing couples to separate before filing for a divorce unless they file for the “two years of separation with no minor children” no-fault divorce option.

Essentially, the procedure to follow when filing for divorce will depend on whether you’re filing for a no-fault, uncontested divorce or a fault-based, contested divorce.

When the divorce is no-fault and uncontested, spouses typically agree on everything right from the get-go. As such, the party filing for divorce doesn’t have to prove fault or pursue divorce litigation. In this case, the couple files all the necessary divorce forms together, which may include:

  • The divorce complaint
  • Marital dissolution agreement
  • Agreed permanent parenting plan (if you have children under 18)

Conversely, when the divorce is fault-based and contested, it’s likely to be lengthier because aside from notifying the other spouse about the divorce, the divorcing couple may need to go to trial to work out the issues that need to be resolved.

How can you keep divorce proceedings discreet?

Divorce is rarely a pleasant process, especially when you have to prove marital fault to start the proceedings. It’s natural to want privacy during such a challenging time. Luckily, with the help of a legal practitioner, you can seek a private judge who can better ensure that your private life doesn’t become an outrageous public spectacle.

Few people understand the intricacies of divorce as clearly as an experienced legal practitioner who has guided divorcing couples through the process discreetly. Suppose you’ve decided that you want a divorce; seeking legal guidance is, ultimately, a good idea.


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