Tennessee Supreme Court Adopts Forms For Uncontested Divorce For Parties With Minor Children

Friday, December 30, 2016
The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a set of plain-language forms and instructions for use in uncontested divorces between parties with minor children in an effort to simplify divorce proceedings for parties that fall into that category.  The forms will become effective January 1, 2017.

The forms are approved by the Court as universally acceptable and legally sufficient for use in all Tennessee courts pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 52. The forms and instructions were submitted to the Court by the Access to Justice Commission.

The forms arose from the Commission’s responsibility under Supreme Court Rule 50 to develop initiatives and systemic changes to reduce barriers to access to justice and to meet the legal needs of persons whose legal needs may not be met by legal aid programs. Currently there are restrictions on the types of family law cases which may be handled by federally funded legal aid providers. 

The forms are designed for spouses who fulfill all of the following requirements:

  • Agree on all the aspects of their divorce,  including child support

  • Have minor children together

  • Do not own any real property (land, house, etc.)

  • Do not have any retirement accounts 

    Spouses with an existing order of protection can also use these forms, however, they must meet all requirements.  Also, those spouses with an existing order of protection will be provided with additional information on how these forms impact that existing order of protection. 

    The forms and instructions arose from a report by the Court’s Task Force to Study Self Represented Litigants, which included a recommendation for universal divorce forms for uncontested divorces. The Commission enlisted members of that Task Force to assist in developing the forms. Other volunteers were pulled from the Commission’s Self-Represented Litigants Advisory Committee to work on this project. The Commission solicited feedback from the private bar including the Tennessee Bar Association, court clerks, trial and general sessions judges, legal aid attorneys, and other access to justice stakeholders to create the best possible version of these forms and instructions.

    “The Commission deeply appreciates the many hours spent by dedicated volunteers on this project over the past three years,” said Marcy Eason, Chairperson of the Commission. “These forms and instructions are the result of the extraordinary focus and expertise of our community partners.”

    This packet of forms complements existing divorce forms and instructions for uncontested divorces when the parties do not have minor children, which the Court adopted in 2011. Numerous reports from judicial staff and other access to justice resources cite family law issues as one of the most prevalent legal matters experienced by low income Tennesseans. 

    “These forms and instructions will provide a much-needed resource to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” added Justice Cornelia Clark, Supreme Court liaison to the Commission.  “They are a way for those who don’t qualify for free legal help to access our court system and better understand the legal process for their divorce.” 

    The forms and instructions are written in a fifth- to eighth-grade reading level to help a wide range of Tennesseans.  They will go into effect on January 1, 2017, and will be available for free on the Administrative Office of the Courts website,TNCourts.gov, and the Court’s access to justice website, TNJusticeForAll.com.   



Chattanooga Chamber Business Calendar For April 20-27

April 24, Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association (LCAA) AM Regathering 7:30-9 a.m. The Camp House: 149 East M.L. King Blvd. Join Leadership Chattanooga graduates at the monthly “regathering” for coffee and conversation.   April 24, East Brainerd Chamber Council Meeting 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Car Barn: 6721 Heritage Business Ct. Speaker: Alexa LeBoeuf of UnifiEd ... (click for more)

Tennessee Society Of CPAs Hosts Client Financial Advisors Panel Thursday

The Tennessee Society of CPAs is meeting Thursday with a guest panel to talk about the growing trend of CPAs working directly with their client’s financial advisors to help families save as much as possible. The meeting will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center. (click for more)

Federal Jury Finds Gillispie Guilty Of 6 Counts In Sex Trafficking Case

A federal jury on Wednesday morning found Corrie Gillispie guilty of six counts in his sex trafficking trial. Gillispie was ruled guilty of two counts of sex trafficking, two counts of kidnapping, one count of transporting a person across state lines for prostitution, and one count of money laundering.  The panel found him not guilty of another charge of transporting ... (click for more)

Attorney Says There Was No Valid Reason To Euthanize Monteagle Family's Pet Raccoon Boomer

A Chattanooga attorney who specializes in wildlife cases says there was no valid reason for health officials to have euthanized a pet raccoon belonging to a family in Monteagle. Candace Bone said the family had owned "Boomer" for three years after getting her from an approved raccoon farm. She said, "We are all devastated. He was just like a baby to us. Boomer slept between ... (click for more)

A Tribute For My Brother – Sgt. Jonathan Gardner, U.S. Army

Seven years ago today, my family and I found out that my brother, Sgt. Jonathan D. Gardner, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, (explosively formed penetrator - EFP), while on a mission in Kuwait. The EFP went through the bottom of his seat and put a softball size hole in his upper thigh. The doctors said that if the bomb had entered the Humvee an inch to the right, he ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Teacher's Pay Cut

The Hamilton County School Board will hold a “working session” Thursday afternoon as steps continue to formulate the FY2019 budget and it is a frightening process in a badly-broken system. Everybody knows it is equally embarrassing and after watching teachers who “have had enough” go on strikes in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky this spring, I guarantee you that Tennessee is ... (click for more)