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  • Writer's pictureThe Law Office of Allen E. Schwartz


In many cases both parties or spouses want to terminate their marriage. What happens when one spouse wants a divorce, but the other spouse doesn’t want a divorce? In other cases, a spouse may leave town and cannot be found, contacted or heard from. Luckily the state of Tennessee will not make you stay married to a spouse that is out of contact. When this happens and a second party to a divorce cannot be located or contacted, the court will grant what is known as a default divorce in the state of Tennessee.

Please read below to learn more about default divorce and how we can help you with a default divorce in Tennessee.

The default divorce name comes from a term named “default judgment.” This means a judgment or ruling is made by the court in favor of one of the parties due to a lack of response from the other party.

Instead of having one spouse by in limbo waiting for an uncooperative spouse to respond – a judge will grant a divorce and proceed as if the other party had agreed to all the petitioner’s requests. A default divorce is basically a consequence of one party failing to respond or act.

Absentee Spouse – a spouse has abandoned their family, leaving no notice of where they are going, how they can be contacted, or if and when they will be back.

Unruly Spouse – this normally involves a spouse who thinks they can stall out the divorce process by refusing to engage with the proceedings. You might not want a divorce, but the state of Tennessee isn’t in the business of forcing someone to stay married against their will.

The Intentional Default Divorce – Sometimes both spouses try to intentionally trigger a default divorce. Here, one spouse will file a complaint with the court, and the other will knowingly fail to respond. The intentional default divorce is a way of securing a quick divorce. Couples don’t have to pay attorney’s fees and are saved from the hassles of appearing in court. It also gives them more privacy, since there’s no need to produce a whole marriage’s worth of financial documents. PLEASE NOTE that by failing to respond, you are basically giving up all of your rights to contest the court’s order in the future! In these situations, an uncontested divorce is the best option for couples to pursue.

How To Get A Default Divorce In Tennessee?

If you have an uncommunicative spouse - default divorces extremely inexpensive and easy to do. All you need to do is file, and your spouse’s unresponsiveness will handle the rest.

According to Tennessee family law, anyone who wants to file for a divorce will need to:

· Acquire and complete all the necessary forms

· File completed paperwork with the county clerk along with the filing fee

· Execute proper service on their spouse

· Endure the mandatory waiting period

· Attend parenting classes if needed

· Proceed either to settlement, or to a divorce trial

**Please not that within a default divorce - only the first three steps are normally needed.

Once your paperwork is filed and you execute proper service, your spouse will have thirty days to file a response. If they do not then you and your lawyer can file a Motion for Default Judgment with the court.

What Is Proper Service?

According to Tennessee law, proper service typically requires divorce papers to be hand-delivered by someone over eighteen ho is not a party to the lawsuit. However, when you don’t know where your spouse is or how to get in touch with them – then completing service this way may not be possible. In Tennessee courts will often authorize service by publication, as an alternative. This requires you to publish notification of your divorce for a total of four weeks in a row - once this is done and you still have no response the court can move forward with a default divorce.

Default Divorce Attorneys in Tennessee

If you have more questions about default divorce or divorce and family law in Tennessee, you can contact a Knoxville divorce attorney at the The Law Offices of Allen E. Schwartz for help. We offer more than 40 years of legal experience, and we take the time to get to know our clients and their unique individual concerns. We will apply our substantial experience coupled with a personal approach to help you protect your rights.


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