How to Write a Divorce Complaint in Tennessee

By Heather Frances J.D.

The process of filing for divorce in Tennessee begins when you file a divorce complaint, also known as a petition for divorce. Like all states, Tennessee provides for no-fault divorce, meaning that neither party has to show the other was at fault to obtain a divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, you can file for an uncontested, no-fault divorce. Your local court can provide all the divorce forms you'll need. You can also use an online legal documentation service to prepare and file all of your divorce paperwork.


A Tennessee court cannot grant your divorce unless you or your spouse has lived in Tennessee for at least six months before you file your complaint. Once you file, you don’t have to remain a resident of Tennessee; the court may still grant your divorce if you subsequently move out of Tennessee. Additionally, if you or your spouse live in another state, either of you may file for divorce in your state of residence as soon as you meet that state’s residency requirements.


The state of Tennessee offers two no-fault grounds for divorce: separation for at least two years or irreconcilable differences. It also provides fault-based grounds including adultery, habitual drunkenness, desertion and conviction of a felony. If you are filing for divorce based on anything other than irreconcilable differences, you must provide details in your divorce complaint.

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If you file the complaint for divorce, you must list yourself as the plaintiff and your spouse as the defendant in the divorce lawsuit. In addition to listing your grounds for divorce, your complaint must include information about both you and your spouse, including your full names, mailing addresses, birth dates, date and place of your marriage, number of previous marriages, location of all property either of you own and the names and addresses of your employers. Along with your complaint, you must file a separate document containing certain personal information, such as your full names, social security numbers, mailing addresses and your dates of birth -- as well as the dates of birth of any children you have together. After you file this paperwork with the court, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the complaint along with a summons to notify your spouse of the divorce petition and first court deadlines.

Waiting Period

Once you file, Tennessee requires you to wait at least 60 days before the court will grant your divorce if you have no minor children -- and 90 days if you have minor children. The state also requires spouses who have minor children together to attend parenting classes. During the waiting period, you and your spouse can try to reach an agreement concerning the division of your marital property, as well as create a parenting plan for the judge to approve. If needed, you can attend mediation to help you reach an agreement. If you come to an agreement regarding all the terms of your divorce, only one of you has to go to court for the final divorce hearing.

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