Legal Separation in Tennessee
Legal Separation is Not a Dissolution of Marriage
You are experiencing marital problems, and no longer can or desire to live with your spouse, but do not desire to permanently dissolve the marriage, at least not at this time, then you may need to consider a legal separation. Whether for religious reasons, to maintain health insurance, or for other personal reasons, there are times when a person does not want to obtain an absolute divorce, but only a legal separation. The process for obtaining a legal separation in Tennessee is very similar to the process of divorce. Seek the advice of a divorce lawyer about the options of legal separation, divorce, and the issues of child custody, spousal support or alimony, health insurance, etc.
The Process of Obtaining a Legal Separation
The process of obtaining a legal separation in Tennessee is very similar to filing for an absolute divorce – which dissolves the bonds of matrimony. A person seeking a legal separation must file a petition for legal separation in the Circuit or Chancery Court (in some counties Family Court or General Sessions). The petition for legal separation must allege one or more of the same grounds that one would allege for a divorce – such as adultery, inappropriate marital conduct, etc.
Once the petition for separation is filed, it will then be served (usually by the Sheriff”s department) upon the other spouse, who will have thirty (30) days to answer or object to the request for relief. In the event that the other party objects to a legal separation, then the Court will conduct a hearing and weigh such objections against the reasons and evidence for the legal separation. However, if the other party (the Defendant) objects only to the existence of grounds for divorce, but does not specifically object to a legal separation the court will grant the request and enter an Order of Legal Separation. Within such an order the Court may make provisions for spousal support, child support, child custody and the like. However, since it is not a Final Decree of Divorce, no final disposition of property is made, nor is there a final disposition of child custody matters.
A Legal Separation May be Converted to an Absolute Divorce
The Court may grant an absolute divorce if after two (2) years of legal separation, if either party files an petition seeking a divorce and shows that the parties have not reconciled. However, the parties do not have to wait the two years, but can petition the court at anytime to proceed with a divorce upon fault grounds. Of course the parties may also enter an agreed divorce and present the agreement to the court for approval upon irreconcilable differences.
A legal separation does not affect the bonds of matrimony, but ceases matrimonial cohabitation (living together). Legal separation is sometimes referred to as a “divorce from bed and board” To learn more about a legal separation contact a family law divorce lawyer of Purple Law Firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee TN.