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Divorce in Tennessee: Average Cost and Time

In addition to the emotional cost, it's expensive to get a divorce. The average cost of divorce in Tennessee is around $10,000. This includes attorney's fees and about $3,000 in additional expenses. This is slightly higher than the national average.

You can expect to pay around $17,000 if you have alimony or property division issues. The highest average cost is about $20,000 for a divorce case involving child support and custody matters.

These prices can seem intimidating. The good news is that there are ways to keep the costs down if you and your spouse cooperate during the divorce process.

How Much Are Divorce Filing Fees in Tennessee?

Filing fees for a divorce case in Tennessee, called a complaint for divorce, are anywhere from $184 to $301. The costs depend on whether you have children and if you require the sheriff to serve the divorce papers on your spouse.

Either you or your divorce attorney must file your divorce petition with your local Tennessee court. You must also pay the requisite filing fee. Once you do this, the family court judge will set a hearing date for your divorce.

Tennessee law has a 60-day or 90-day waiting period for divorce. You must wait this long for the judge to schedule your divorce hearing.

During this time, your attorney will try to negotiate the following issues outside of court:

  • A permanent parenting plan called a child custody arrangement
  • Financial support for minor children
  • Alimony, also known as spousal support, if one spouse did not work or earned less
  • Property division such as splitting debts, accounts, your house, and other marital property
  • Any other specific terms for your final decree of divorce, like who keeps the family pet

If you cannot decide on these issues, your two divorce attorneys will negotiate until both sides are happy. This process can be costly. The longer it takes to work out a settlement agreement, the more the total cost will be.

You also have the option to pay for a mediator to help you reach a fair resolution. On average, a mediator costs $100-$200 per hour. Mediation is a great option when spouses cannot communicate effectively or need a neutral third party to keep the discussion on track.

Filing for Agreed Divorce

The fastest and cheapest divorce in Tennessee is an agreed divorce. This is only available to couples without minor children who do not own property.

If there are no children to discuss and no property to divide, the divorce paperwork is relatively simple. You can learn about the agreed divorce process from this county's example.

Contested Divorce Cost vs. Uncontested Divorce Cost

The type of divorce you file will impact the cost of your divorce. In general, the cost of a divorce is lower for parties who file for an uncontested divorce. This is because you won’t have to pay for divorce mediation or take a long time hashing out any divorce issues.

If you file for an at-fault divorce, you should expect to pay significantly more.

Uncontested Divorce

Spouses have the option to get an uncontested divorce. This means the parties have irreconcilable differences, but nobody is at fault.

Regardless of the reason for your divorce, you can ignore fault and file for an uncontested divorce. This will save you time and money.

Contested Divorce

Some couples file for a contested divorce because they want to prove their spouse was at fault. Your attorney can call witnesses and gather testimony to prove their wrongdoing. This process will cost more and take much longer.

If your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, you’re better off filing for a contested divorce. The odds of a reluctant spouse agreeing to significant issues are low.

Contested divorces take time and money. However, your divorce will eventually become final. No spouse can stop a contested divorce just because they don't want one, but they can drag out the process and make it very expensive.

How Much Does a Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Cost?

The average attorney in Tennessee charges around $200-$300 per hour. This is a standard rate for an experienced divorce attorney. You may see lower hourly rates on periodic bills since law firms often use paralegals and other legal staff to handle divorce papers.

You usually pay family law attorneys hourly. They track their hours throughout your case. You’ll sign a contract to pay a retainer to hire an attorney. Some law firms offer flat-fee divorces if the case is straightforward and the spouses agree.

Your attorney will bill you throughout the divorce process as costs add up. Take this into consideration when you fight for a fair settlement agreement. Hearing you'll get $50,000 of your ex's retirement benefits sounds great until you subtract the additional costs and are left with less than $30,000.

Filing for Divorce in Tennessee Without a Lawyer

Divorce laws in Tennessee do not require that you hire an attorney. You can file a civil complaint against anyone at any time.

The divorce process is complex. The various forms and filing dates can trip up even the most careful person. It is wise to consult with an attorney if you need clarification on the process or how to get the settlement you want.

You can start a divorce without an attorney and hire one later on, or you may hire an attorney before deciding to finish the case yourself. Since most divorce lawyers work per hour, you can often find a flexible arrangement.

It is essential to know that many judges take child support and custody matters seriously. They might deny your arrangement if they believe it isn't in the best interests of your children. Having a lawyer review your child custody plan in advance is helpful.

How Long Does a Tennessee Divorce Take?

If you have children, there is a 90-day waiting period before the courts finalize your divorce. If you do not have minor children, the waiting period is only 60 days.

In cases involving abuse or domestic violence, the courts can order an expedited hearing. This protects a spouse and their children from the abuser as soon as possible. The judge may issue a waiver of the waiting period in cases like this.

Uncontested divorce cases take around two to six months. Divorces involving minor children take about a year. The process can take even longer if spouses don't agree on matters or want to fight each other on every issue.

If You Are Nervous: Consider Hiring a Lawyer

If the divorce process is overwhelming, or you suspect your ex will give you a hard time, you should consider hiring an attorney.

The costs of a divorce can be intimidating. This should not stop you from getting a divorce and negotiating a fair settlement. Attorneys understand the process can be long, expensive, and draining. Many firms offer payment plans.

Contact an experienced Tennessee divorce lawyer to schedule your consultation. You can choose to retain the attorney or handle matters yourself. The choice is yours, and legal professionals are there to help with legal advice when you need it.

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