Tennessee Court Records
The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Tennessee
As provided by Tennessee state laws, divorce and annulment are ways to put an end to a marriage or partnership. Even though the result is the same, the processes and circumstances around which events may occur are different. While divorce is the legal termination of a marriage, annulment renders the marriage void.
Tennessee has two courts with overlapping jurisdiction in civil legal action, such as divorce and annulment. Chancery courts and Circuit courts hear divorce and annulment cases.
What is a Tennessee Divorce Decree?
A Tennessee divorce decree is the final divorce judgment. Divorce is final when a judge signs the divorce decree. The decree contains the case number, divorce date, and venue. Additionally, Tennessee divorce decrees itemize the divorced parties’ agreements, including alimony, child custody plans, asset, and debt distribution, court and lawyer fee payment plans, and visitation rights.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
What is an Annulment in Tennessee?
Annulment is the process that renders a marriage void. When the court grants an annulment, the marriage will be deemed as one that never existed. Tennessee laws prohibit certain types of marriages; prohibited marriages are voidable. In Tennessee, parties may not marry close relations, linear ancestors, or descendants. Marriage between a party and the descendants and linear ancestors of the party’s parents, spouse, or the spouse’s parents is prohibited.
Generally, marriages contracted when a party is incapable or unfit to enter a marriage contract are also void. The courts make annulment records available to authorized persons, such as persons named on the record or legal representatives of such persons. However, members of the public may request verification of annulment.
Annulment vs Divorce in Tennessee
Annulment and divorce are processes that result in the end of a marriage. However, while divorce terminates a marriage, annulment renders the marriage invalid. Each process has different requirements. Grounds for annulment in Tennessee include:
- Incapacity due to age
- Mental illness
- Denial of marital rights
Persons interested in filing for annulment in Tennessee must file a Complaint for Annulment at the Chancery or Circuit court in the county where either party resides. Tennessee laws require parties in a divorce to have lived in the county of filing for at least six (6) months. After the petitioner files for annulment and the defendant responds, the court schedules a hearing date where the judge will decide whether the petitioner has sufficiently proven grounds for annulment. After the hearing, if the judge determines that the petitioner has proven grounds for annulment, the judge will grant the annulment.
There are two types of divorce in Tennessee, which are contested and uncontested divorces. In a contested divorce, parties do not agree on divorce-related issues. In an uncontested divorce, on the other hand, both parties agree on divorce terms and issues. Tennessee is a no-fault state; this means that residents may file for divorce based only on irreconcilable differences. Other grounds for divorce in Tennessee include:
- Habitual drunkenness
- Separation for at least two (2) years
- Felony conviction
- Inappropriate marital conduct
Petitioning parties may initiate the divorce process by filing a Complaint for Divorce, Summons, and Certificate of Divorce. After the petitioner has filed the required paperwork, the party must ensure that the defendant receives the summons and the complaint through the court’s service processes. If the defendant does not agree to the divorce, or if both parties do not agree about divorce terms, the case will go to trial. Parties can settle an uncontested divorce without going to trial.
Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Tennessee?
Generally, an annulment is not cheaper than a divorce in Tennessee. Both processes require commitment and financial resources; however, the amount the case parties spend in each case depends on the case particulars. Parties in a divorce case will incur court fees such as filing fees and must also pay for the legal services of any attorney the parties hire. The same applies to parties in an annulment case. The differences between annulment and divorce are typically not in the costs but in the requirements and processes.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Tennessee?
In an uncontested divorce, parties agree on divorce terms such as child support and custody, asset distribution, and visitation rights. An uncontested divorce is also known as an agreed divorce or a simplified divorce in Tennessee. An uncontested divorce is a no-fault divorce process; this means parties may only file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. To be eligible for an uncontested divorce in Tennessee, parties must not own any joint real property or have minor/dependent children. It is possible to get an uncontested divorce in Tennessee without going to trial or appearing in front of a judge.
Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Tennessee?
Parties who meet Tennessee residency requirements may file for an uncontested divorce if:
- Both parties agree to the divorce.
- Parties do not have dependent children.
- Neither party is pregnant.
- Parties do not have jointly-owned property or business.
- Parties do not have retirement benefits up for division.
- Parties agree on divorce-related issues such as alimony.
To begin the uncontested divorce process, parties must file divorce forms along with the following forms:
- Health insurance Notice
- Notice of hearing
- Spouse’s personal information
- Divorce agreement
- The final decree of divorce
Petitioning parties must verify the particular forms that each court requires. Parties must also pay filing fees to the court; parties who cannot afford court fees may request that the court waives the fees. The court verifies the divorce or separation agreement reasonable; the judge may sign the Decree of Divorce. Uncontested divorces take up to 60 days for parties without children and up to 90 days for parties who have children. The divorce is not final until the judge signs the divorce decree.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Tennessee?
As provided by Tennessee laws, divorce records are not public for 50 years after the divorce; therefore, only authorized persons, such as persons named on the record or authorized representatives of such parties, may copy certified copies of divorce decrees.
Authorized parties may request divorce records by submitting an application in person or by mail to:
Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Requesting parties must include a notarized application for a certified copy and a government-issued photo identification with the requesting party’s signature. The court charges $15 for each copy of certified divorce records. Interested parties may also request certified copies of divorce records online using government-approved third-party portals.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How Do I Get a Tennessee Divorce Decree Online?
The Vital Records division of the Tennessee Department of Health offers online access to divorce records through government-approved third-party websites. Requesting parties may pay using credit or debit cards.