Legal Separation

In Tennessee, you may file for a legal separation rather than a divorce. This is an unusual circumstance, and couples legalseparationbrentwooddivorcelawyertypically choose to do this for one of two reasons: 1) the couple’s religious beliefs do not allow for divorce, or 2) one spouse has medical issues and needs to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance.

When you file for a legal separation, the court will still divide your assets and debts, draft a parenting plan and provide for spousal and child support. Once the agreement has been drafted, either party can submit that agreement to the court to have a divorce finalized.

The difference in a legal separation and a divorce is that the parties are still legally married after the process. This allows for spouses to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance policy and to take from the other spouse’s estate.

The Process of Obtaining a Legal Separation

The process of obtaining a legal separation in Tennessee is very similar to filing for an absolute divorce – which dissolves the bonds of matrimony. A person seeking a legal separation must file a petition for legal separation in the Circuit or Chancery Court (in some counties Family Court or General Sessions).  The petition for legal separation must allege one or more of the same grounds that one would allege for a divorce – such as adultery, inappropriate marital conduct, etc.

Once the petition for separation is filed, it will then be served (usually by the Sheriff”s department) upon the other spouse, who will have thirty (30) days to answer or object to the request for relief.  In the event that the other party objects to a legal separation, then the Court will conduct a hearing and weigh such  objections against the reasons and evidence for the legal separation.   However, if the other party (the Defendant) objects only to the existence of grounds for divorce, but does not specifically object to a legal separation the court will grant the request and enter an Order of Legal Separation.  Within such an order the Court may make provisions for spousal support, child support, child custody and the like.  However, since it is not a Final Decree of Divorce, no final disposition of property is made, nor is there a final disposition of child custody matters.



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