Satisfying Residency Requirement Is First Step in Tennessee Divorce
Wondering just how to get started with your Tennessee divorce? One of the very first concerns you will need to address is the TN residency requirement.
Tennessee Residence Requirement – How Long Must I Live in Tennessee to File for Divorce?
In Tennessee, as with most states, the parties to a divorce must satisfy a residency requirement. (See T.C.A. § 36-4-104 for statutory language.) Establishing residency at the time the divorce is filed prevents non-resident spouses from filing for divorce in our state (when they have no real connection to Tennessee). Also, it prevents spouses from seeking more favorable treatment here than they might otherwise receive in the state of their actual residency (something called forum shopping).
The statutory residency requirement allows the case to progress through our court system without jurisdictional vulnerabilities. After all, the last thing any party needs is a collateral attack on the divorce decree and related orders for lack of jurisdiction!
Satisfying Six-Month Minimal Residency
The TN court has authority to grant a divorce when either of the following are true:
1. The divorce complainant was a “bona fide resident” of Tennessee when the alleged acts of marital misconduct supporting dissolution occurred; Or,
2. The divorce complainant resided outside the State of Tennessee when the alleged acts supporting dissolution occurred, but resided here for six months prior to filing for divorce.
Special Residency for Military Personnel Stationed in Tennessee
Like other states, Tennessee has a special residency provision for the U.S. military personnel stationed here who may seek divorce. If either party to a divorce is a member of the armed services and has been living in Tennessee for at least a year, then he or she is presumed to be a resident. That would be a rebuttable presumption, so clear and convincing evidence that the spouse actually lived outside the state may be presented to rebut the presumption of Tennessee residency.
Are you or is your spouse in the U.S. military? Take a look at our webpage on Military Divorce in Tennessee: Answers to FAQs for more information.
What Divorce Residency Issues Should You Be Aware Of?
Do not confuse the term “residency” with the term “domicile.” They are similar. The essential distinction between the two is that an individual may have more than one residence, but only one domicile.
Take, for example, the husband who has a summer cottage in northern Michigan and a winter condo in Germantown. In our example, that individual can only claim one domicile, either Michigan or Tennessee.
Here’s the rub. If the alleged marital misconduct occurred outside Tennessee and neither spouse is a domiciliary here, then our courts lack jurisdiction to grant the divorce unless residency for six months can be established. Unless the defendant-spouse already resided in Germantown for six months or more before the divorce complaint is filed, imposition of the statutory residency requirement demands the plaintiff-spouse reside in Tennessee for the six-month period before filing here. Faced with a complicated residency issue, the husband in this Germantown, Tennessee, example should arrange to meet with a divorce attorney well in advance of filing.
Germantown Divorce Lawyer
Germantown divorce lawyer Miles Mason, Sr., practices family law exclusively and is founder of the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC. Check out The Tennessee Divorce Client’s Handbook: What Every Divorcing Spouse Needs to Know available on Amazon and Kindle. To schedule your confidential consultation, call us today at (901) 683-1850.