Jurisdiction and Venue in Tennessee Divorce

Where you get divorced matters

When you file a complaint for divorce in Tennessee you have to make sure that you file it with the Court that has jurisdiction in your case. If you and your spouse have been living in Tennessee for at least the past six months, and you are filing an uncontested divorce, then establishing proper jurisdiction will not be a concern for you. If, however, one of you lives in Tennessee and the other spouse has moved away to another state, jurisdiction and venue for where you file your divorce complaint can become an issue. At the law firm of Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC we can help you sort through the issues of jurisdiction and venue in filing your divorce petition.

Residency requirements for divorce in Tennessee

Before you can file a complaint for divorce in TN you must have been a resident for six months prior to filing. The spouse filing the divorce petition must be a resident of the state when the grounds for divorce took place. In a situation where the grounds for divorce happened outside of TN, one of the spouses must be a resident for at least six months before they can file.

Determining jurisdiction for military personnel stationed in Tennessee

If one of the spouses is on active duty in the U.S. military stationed in Tennessee, if they have been living in the state for at least one year they can be considered a resident.

Jurisdiction in Tennessee divorce law

Personal jurisdiction refers to the authority of the court to adjudicate the claim as to the parties before it. For example: A couple has lived in Tennessee for five years. One party moves away and is gone for two years. The spouse who remains in TN with the marital home and the couple’s children files a complaint for divorce in the county where the couple lived together. The respondent spouse receives service of the divorce complaint, and their attorney filed an Answer on their behalf with the court. If the respondent had an issue with the venue, their attorney would have filed a Motion to Dismiss. In failing to object to the court’s personal jurisdiction in their answer, the respondent consented to personal jurisdiction.

Tennessee also has a “long arm statute,” which states that if both spouses were residents of TN, and then one spouse moves out of state, then Tennessee can retain jurisdiction in the divorce.

Venue refers to the actual location where a dispute will be heard. The divorce petition may be filed in the county where the couple last lived together, where the defendant lives if they are a resident of Tennessee, or in the county where the plaintiff lives if the respondent is not a TN resident.

Technical issues of law such as jurisdiction and venue can be a bit complicated for contested divorce when one party is not a resident of TN at the time the other files a petition. You need a family law attorney who has years of experience working through these kinds of details about divorce law in Tennessee.

Contact a knowledgeable Nashville divorce attorney to discuss your case

At the law firm of Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC our goal is to guide our clients through the complex process of divorce and other family law disputes in the Nashville area. Call us today at 615-391-4200 or contact us online to schedule an in-person or video consultation with an experienced attorney.