How to Find a Divorce Record in Tennessee
To be divorced in Tennessee, the couple must have been separated for at least 60 days before the case can be heard. If children are involved, this waiting period rises to 90 days. Divorce happens when two married people decide to take steps to legally reverse that decision in a divorce court. This can also be called a dissolution of marriage. Divorce certificates for 1970 to the present are held by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records and Tennessee Department of Health. There are three different forms that divorce records come in, and they are all utilized for different purposes. Knowing the different uses of these documents will help save time when attempting to access them.
Divorce records are considered court records. They may therefore be searched on third party public record websites. Divorce records can offer personal information on minors, finances, and sensitive criminal information like domestic abuse. Because of this, divorce record, certificate, and decree availability is usually much lower than other types of public records because of the personal nature of divorces. Simply put, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain and search for than other types of public records.
Are Tennessee Divorce Records Public?
Yes. Most Tennessee family court records are made available for public access. Unless sealed by a judge or court order, records can be obtained by virtually anyone in the state. Records that may be sealed include cases involving juveniles and minors. To access these, one needs a court order and justification for why they are attempting to access these records. Certain counties in Tennessee make divorce records searchable through online portals.
With a vail request form, specific courts provide requesting parties with divorce case files. These will be found at the court where the divorce was finalized. The Tennessee Vital Records Office provides divorce certificates. Certified copies are only available to the parties who have gotten divorced and specified family members. After 50 years, divorce records in Tennessee are considered public records and are moved to the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
What are Tennessee Divorce Certificates?
Divorce certificates hold the least amount of information that a divorce record can possibly hold. Essentially, they act as a simple statement that a divorce occurred and do not reveal information about the divorce agreement, i.e., how property and responsibilities will be shared between the divorcing parties. This document includes the names of both parties, and the date and location of the divorce finalization.
A divorce certificate is most frequently solicited when one of the parties wishes to alter their name as it appears on the identification or receive a marriage certificate to get married again. This kind of record is generally only made available to the two parties and the attorneys involved, but some states do consider them public for viewing.
What is a Divorce Decree in Tennessee?
A divorce decree is the final judgment divorcing parties get after a divorce petition is filed and the necessary divorce papers have been signed. A divorce decree is also quite simple. Along with the names of parties, date, and location, it also includes the judgments made by the end of the divorce proceedings. It is given a case number and signed by a judge. If no children are involved, this document will include alimony, allocation of property, and insurance agreements. If there are children involved, it will most often list child custody agreements and scheduling, along with child support payments. Individuals must visit or mail the clerk's office in the county where the divorce was granted to get divorce decrees. Typically, record seekers cannot order or pay for Tennessee divorce decrees online.
What are Tennessee Divorce Records
Divorce records are the most complete reports generated as a result of divorce proceedings. Divorcing parties must first sign divorce papers in Tennessee before the divorce process can begin, and the aftermath of the divorce proceeding is what creates the divorce records. Along with all judgments and information related to the case, a divorce record comprises all divorce documents, transcripts, orders, agreements, and petitions generated during the case proceedings. The parties involved in the divorce will use this record to challenge or alter any information listed on it; therefore, it is suggested that the parties maintain their copy for their own personal records. A divorce record acts as the case file for a dissolution of marriage proceeding. A divorce record can be accessed and viewed by the public, but only those involved in the proceedings can access certified copies of them.
How to Find Public Divorce Records Online
The Tennessee Office of Vital Records does not directly offer online services where record seekers can obtain divorce records. However, record seekers can find public divorce records online from an independent company approved by the office. Record seekers must know the date of divorce, the city where the divorce was granted, and the reason for requesting the record to be able to use this online tool. Online divorce record costs $15 for the first copy and $11.50 for processing fees.
There are several third-party or private aggregate online databases where individuals can search for divorce records. However, requesters would have to pay a small fee to access these online services.
How to Obtain Tennessee Divorce Records
Tennessee Divorce records are largely maintained by Tennessee court clerks in the county where the divorce happened. There are a number of steps a requesting party can take in order to obtain the records they desire.
- Find out which court the divorce took place in and visit the official website. Find the section discussing the county’s Circuit Court, also known as Chancery Court. Many courts make their records available through online portals. Follow the “Case Search” option and fill out the requested information
- It is also possible to lookup divorce records in Tennessee in-person at the Circuit Clerk’s Office in the county where the divorce was finalized. Checks, money orders, debit cards, and cash are all accepted for in-person requests
- It may be beneficial to call the office to make sure they are holding the records one wishes to acquire
- Check the website of the county clerk’s office to make sure they accept online records requests. Online orders only accept debit or credit payments. Some only accept mail-in requests, and some only accept in-person requests. This depends on the county
- If this particular county accepts records requests to be mailed-in, they will provide the requesting party with a request form. Fees associated with mail-in requests vary depending on the information requested, what kind of copy, and how many copies. Mail-in payments can only be made by check or money order
- It is also possible to check with the Vital Records Office of the Tennessee Department of Health to find out if the sought after records are being maintained there
Government public record search portals and third-party public record websites both may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records in particular may simply not be available through either source.
What Information is Needed to Get Tennessee Divorce Records?
In order to access Tennessee divorce case files, it is necessary to provide a certain amount of information.
- Name and address of requesting party
- Name of husband and wife
- Date and location of divorce
- Purpose of request
- Number of copies being requested
- VALID government issued ID showing with signature visible, including:
- Valid driver's license
- Current passport
- Military I.D. card
- Temporary or permanent resident card
- Employment card
- U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
- Citizenship I.D. card or certificate
How to Make Mail Requests for Tennessee Divorce Records
To mail-in a request for a divorce record, be sure to include the completed and signed application, along with a check or money order made out to Tennessee Vital Records for the appropriate fee. Wait times can be 8-10 weeks. Mail this request form and payment to:
Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
How to Make In-Person Requests for Divorce Records Through Tennessee Vital Records
To find divorce records in-person, visit the Tennessee Vital Records Office. This office is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In-person requests are often fulfilled same-day.
What is the Cost and Wait Time for a Tennessee Divorce Certificate?
To request a divorce certificate, a payment of $15.00 is necessary for each copy. This may vary depending on the time it takes the clerk to obtain this file, and whether the file is to be certified for not.
Does Tennessee Recognize Common-Law Marriage?
No. However, although the state of Tennessee does not recognize common-law unions established within its borders, it accepts legitimate common-law marriages entered into by couples who live in a state that permits this type of marriage. The following are some examples of states that recognize common-law marriages: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and the District of Columbia.
How to Get a Divorce in Tennessee
It takes about a few months to get a divorce in Tennessee, depending on whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce case. Generally, it is easier and faster to get an uncontested divorce than a contested divorce. That said, this is how to get a divorce in Tennessee:
STEP 1: A spouse must fill and file the following original divorce papers in a Tennessee Circuit or Chancery Court:
- Request for Divorce (Form 1)
- Spouses’ Personal Information (Form 2)
- Civil Case Cover Sheet or a Summons
- Title IV-D Information Form (Form 10) (only needed if one or both parents receive benefits from the State of Tennessee or child support).
Note: According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-104, an individual can only file for divorce in Tennessee if the following are true:
- The ground for divorce occurred while the petitioner was a Tennessee resident, or
- The ground for divorce happened outside Tennessee, but the petitioner or their spouse had been residents for at least six months before filing the divorce complaint.
(Per the law, a military member, or their spouse, is deemed a Tennessee resident when they have lived in the state for at least one year.)
STEP 2: Pay the necessary filing fee. Those who can not afford the filing fee should fill out the Request to Postpone Filing Fees and Order (Form 3) and file the form with the court clerk.
STEP 3: Fill out the following divorce documents, depending on the case specifics:
- Health Insurance Notice (Form 4)
- Divorce Agreement (Form 5)
- Parenting Plan Form and the Child Support Worksheet
- Final Decree of Divorce (Form 6)
- Court Order for Divorcing Spouses (Form 7)
- Notice of Hearing to Approve Irreconcilable Differences Divorce (Form 8)
STEP 5: After filing Form 1, the petitioner should contact the Clerk after 90 days to inquire about the court date for the Final Divorce Hearing and any other original divorce papers to fill out before the hearing date. The individual must also complete and file the Notice of Hearing to Approve Irreconcilable Differences Divorce (Form 8) and mail the other spouse a copy.
STEP 6: The divorcing parties should go to the courthouse for the final divorce hearing. A copy of the Final Decree of Divorce (Form 6) should be taken to the final hearing.
STEP 7: After the final hearing, the divorcing parties can go to the court clerk’s office to obtain signed copies of the Final Divorce Order. The Final Divorce Order (the divorce decree) signed by the judge confirms the marriage dissolution in Tennessee.