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

Monday, October 31, 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 are approved by the Court as universally acceptable as 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

    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 Calendar Of Events Oct. 26-30

AG Slatery Responds To DOJ Settlement With Purdue Pharma

September Unemployment Rates Decrease In Every Tennessee County


Oct. 27, Online: East Brainerd Chamber Council Meeting Noon-1 p.m. Join the East Brainerd Chamber Council to make connections and learn about strengthening community efforts. Register ... (click for more)

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III on Thursday released the following statement following the U.S. Department of Justice’s settlement with Purdue Pharma. “DOJ has continued to show its ... (click for more)

The unemployment rates in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties decreased in September, according to new data released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Twenty-seven ... (click for more)



Business

Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events Oct. 26-30

Oct. 27, Online: East Brainerd Chamber Council Meeting Noon-1 p.m. Join the East Brainerd Chamber Council to make connections and learn about strengthening community efforts. Register here . No cost. Oct. 27 , Online: Creating a Business Plan 2-4 p.m. A business plan is critical for small businesses (especially those that are seeking funding). This class ... (click for more)

AG Slatery Responds To DOJ Settlement With Purdue Pharma

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III on Thursday released the following statement following the U.S. Department of Justice’s settlement with Purdue Pharma. “DOJ has continued to show its commitment to fighting the opioid crisis by allowing the States to dedicate the majority of the Purdue settlement funds to abating the opioid crisis in their hardest hit communities. Having ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Chattanooga Mayor Race To Include Dozen Candidates - Or More

There may be as many as a dozen candidates in the race for mayor of Chattanooga, and likely even more. Picking up petitions to run thus far are Monty Bruell, D'Angelo Davis, Russell Gilbert, Tim Kelly, George Ryan Love, Andrew McClaren, Erskine Oglesby and Elenora Woods. Others who have said they plan to run include Chris Dahl, Wade Hinton, Keith Smartt and Kim White. Informal ... (click for more)

Firefighter Union President Says Many Firefighters Remain Below Federal Poverty Hourly Pay Rate

Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association President Jack Thompson said city officials plan to raise all city employees to above the federal poverty rate, but it will not apply to firefighters. He said firefighters start out at $10.54 an hour and do not reach the hourly poverty rate until eight years. Mr. Thompson said, " The City of Chattanooga administrators have been publicizing ... (click for more)

Opinion

The Courts' Role In Protecting Voting Rights

Nov. 3, Election Day, is right around the corner. Of course, voting is fundamental to elections. It is through voting we both give our consent to those we entrust to govern us and hold those governing us accountable. From our right to vote come many of our rights and freedoms. Every day seems to bring new stories about disputes over voting, many of which are pursued through lawsuits. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Trump’s $455 Billion Call

Late last fall, there was a story that got a lot of mileage and for good reason. Donald Trump’s economic trade policy of America First signaled that our President had the guts to say “enough is enough” to The Marshall Plan, which by all rights should have been discontinued about 50 years ago but was not. It enabled the countries we were eager to help following World War II to continue ... (click for more)