Understanding Legal Separation In Tennessee

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on January 31, 2020

For many couples, separating before divorce is like a cooling-off period, to see if the marriage can be saved. But did you know in Tennessee, legally separating is very similar to divorce, except couples cannot remarry? 

In Tennessee, when a married couple decides to live apart, it is recognized as a legal separation. The grounds for separation are typically the same as those of divorce, except the marriage is not dissolved. Support payments, child custody and the distribution of marital assets may all be included in a legal separation case. 

Grounds for Separation

Like divorce, there are 15 grounds for separation in Tennessee. 

  1. Irreconcilable Differences
  2. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment 
  3. Adultery
  4. Bigamy
  5. Impotence and Inability to Procreate
  6. Desertion for One Year
  7. Conviction of an Infamous Crime
  8. Conviction of a Felony
  9. Attempt to Kill One’s Spouse
  10. Refusal to Move
  11. Pregnancy By Another
  12. Habitual Drunkenness or Abuse of Narcotic Drugs
  13. Indignities
  14. Abandonment
  15. Two Years Separation With No Minor Children

Similar to filing for divorce, to file for separation, you have to file a petition for a hearing. From there, the court can rule on your case after 60 days–only if there are no children involved. When children are involved, the waiting period extends to 90 days. 

For couples that can come to terms with financial responsibilities and child custody, the court will take this into account if no reconciliation occurs and divorce is filed. If a spouse objects to reconciliation, the court may grant an absolute divorce within two years, but also at any time within the filing of legal separation. 

It’s important to know that if one spouse wants to separate and the other wants an absolute divorce decree, the divorce case will be the one to go forward.

Separation Agreements in Tennessee

A separation agreement is a legally bound contract each spouse must agree to and sign. The separation agreement is intended to resolve the division of property, debt, and child custody issues. 

However, these documents can become very complex and often require the legal assistance of a family law attorney. 

While there are not many differences between legal separation and divorce in Tennessee, it’s important to know that while you may be wanting to move on in life, dating and moving in with a new partner can be problematic for you later on. 

Contact a trusted separation lawyer in Tennessee who can help you wade through the legal waters. 

Contact Us

When deciding whether a legal separation is the right option, it is important to know exactly what other options are available to you. The legal separation lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC can guide you through the process and help work out the specifics of your separation agreement. If down the road you plan to get a divorce, our attorneys can advise you on the best strategy.

If you live in Nashville, Springfield, or anywhere in Davidson and Williamson Counties, and are considering a legal separation, let us help. Contact our legal separation lawyers now to set up an appointment to discuss your needs.

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