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Nashville Family Lawyer

There are a couple of basic requirements to file for divorce in Tennessee. Firstly, one spouse must have been a Tennessee resident for at least 6 months before filing. Secondly, the filing spouse must list a “ground” (reason) for divorce. This reason could be based on one partner’s fault (e.g., adultery, substance abuse, etc.), but it could also be no-fault based, simply citing “irreconcilable differences.”

To settle a divorce, a couple can discuss a settlement between themselves and their attorneys, negotiate in mediation, or, if all else fails, take the case to trial. A separation agreement is advantageous to going to trial, as spouses can have strict authority to negotiate decisions like child custody, property division, alimony, and child support, rather than defaulting to a judge’s final decision in trial. Nonetheless, if the couple cannot agree on their own, they will proceed to litigation. 

Child Custody Negotiations in Tennessee

One important divorce negotiation is child custody. Note that under Tennessee’s child custody laws, one parent will be designated as the primary residential parent who lives with the child more than half the time, naturally making them more involved in the child’s day-to-day occurrences.

To determine who will be the primary residential parent, the judge will examine what is in the child's best interests, such as:

  • the child's relationship with each parent;
  • each parent's role in parental caretaking obligations;
  • the child’s preference (if they are over the age of 12);
  • the child's relationships with siblings and extended family members;
  • the child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
  • the importance of continuity in the child's life, including the length of time the child has lived in the current environment;
  • either parent's history of domestic violence or emotional abuse;
  • each parent's moral, physical, mental and emotional fitness;
  • the child's reasonable preference (if 12 years or older);
  • each parent's work schedule; and
  • any other relevant factor(s).
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