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Tennessee Divorce Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Tennessee Divorce laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:
Petitioner

The spouse who will initiate the Divorce by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:
Respondent

The spouse who does not initiate the Divorce with the court.

Court Name:
In the __________ Court of __________ County, Tennessee

The proper name of the court in which a Divorce is filed in the state of Tennessee. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:
http://www.state.tn.us/humanserv/child_support.htm

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Divorce Document:
Petition for Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Tennessee Divorce process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Divorce Document:
Decree of Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Tennessee Divorce process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Divorce process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

The grounds for legal separation (divorce from bed and board) are the same as for a divorce. If the legal separation has been in effect for 2 years and the spouses have not reconciled, either spouse may request that the separation be converted to an absolute divorce. [Tennessee Code Annotated; Volume 6A, Title 36, Sections 36-4-102 and 36-4-119].

Property Distribution:
Equitable Distribution

The applicable Tennessee law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Divorce.