How long does it take to get an uncontested divorce in Memphis?

It mostly depends on YOU!

The timeline of each divorce is as unique as the people and situations involved.  But the question is common: how long will it take for my Memphis uncontested divorce? 

Once you have met with and retained an attorney, a lot of the timeline control will lay in your hands.  The attorney’s ability to draft your divorce paperwork will depend on the speed with which you get them the necessary information.  How you get that information to them can be key, too – it is often easiest to gather all applicable information at once to submit to your attorney, rather than calling or emailing repeatedly with tidbits of information here and there.

Once they have all of your information, your attorney will draft your divorce documents (see our Resource Center for examples of these) and give them a review.  This can take a few days to do properly, depending on the attorney’s caseload or court schedule at the time.  The papers next get your review and stamp of approval, which again is on your schedule.  When the paperwork is approved, then it gets mailed to the opposing party for their signatures – while we include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for ease of return, this section can take some time as well (factor in postal service timing in addition to the other party’s ability to sign in the presence of a notary public).

When the paperwork returns to the attorney’s office you are contacted to come in to sign.  When all signatures are in order and all payments have been made for filing fees, the documents will get filed.  This can take a few days, depending on the attorney’s schedule or proximity to the courthouse.  It is at this time only that a concrete timeline begins: in Shelby County, TN, there is a 60-day waiting period for divorces without children and a 90-day waiting period for divorces with children, while in DeSoto County, MS, there is a 60-day waiting period for divorces based upon the grounds of irreconcilable differences.  At the end of that waiting period, your attorney will contact the courts to determine or request a final hearing date.  That date can be anywhere from within the same week to several weeks out, depending on your, the court’s, and your attorney’s schedules.  At the time of the final hearing’s conclusion, your divorce is final.

All in all, your divorce can range anywhere from two and a half months to a year or more, depending on your ability to fulfill your attorney’s requests for information and documentation quickly, schedule time to sign paperwork, and how you choose to communicate all of that information.

What do I do If I’ve been served with divorce papers?

 Question:  I just was served with divorce papers from my wife’s attorney and she’s seeking a contested divorce.  I don’t live in the same state as my wife, what do I do? 

Answer In both Tennessee and Mississippi, when a divorce complaint is filed, you will be served with the a copy of the official complaint stating on what grounds the divorce is being filed on. The complaint will also state what state, county and court the case will be heard in.  Once you’ve been served divorce papers the clock starts ticking on your time limit to answer the complaint.

If it’s a contested divorce then you need to get to an attorneys office ASAP. There could be important deadlines that you don’t want to miss and you don’t want to wait until the last minute or else your attorney may not be able to help you. If the case is uncontested then you might be able to work things out on your own without having to hire a divorce lawyer. But this really depends on the complexity of your case and how many assets you may have and whether there are children involved.

My advice is to always call a good Memphis divorce lawyer’s office. Most will be happy to give you a free 30 minute phone consultation at the very least and you can learn more about what you need to do and whether or not you need a lawyer. But whatever you do don’t delay and procrastinate, doing so could cost you a lot of money if a default judgement is found against you.

Can I get a Tennessee or Mississippi divorce even if I was married in another state?


Can I get a divorce in Tennessee even if I was married in Mississippi (or vice versa)?


The State in which you were married does not have anything to do with the State in which you can get divorced or separated.  If either you or your spouse have lived in Tennessee or Mississippi for more than six months then Tennessee or Mississippi will have jurisdiction to to grant your divorce.

Should You Represent Yourself in Your Memphis Divorce?

The following post was originally written by Houston divorce attorney Scott Morgan.
Click Here to visit his Houston Divorce Blog.

In recent years I have noticed an ever increasing number of pro se litigants (people who represent themselves) at the family law courthouse. I mentioned this to a judge who estimated that 50% of her docket was comprised of pro se cases.

For several years now the basement of the Family Law Center has been occupied by a staff member of the Houston Volunteer Lawyers whose basic job is to assist the pro se litigants with the numerous document errors that are caught by the judges during what are supposed to be quick, easy uncontested prove up hearings.

It is my understanding that most of these people are using divorce form websites. They pay approximately $200 or so for the fill-in-the-blank divorce forms that are supposed to be acceptable in their jurisdiction.

Among the many problems of a divorce form website is the obvious difficulty in creating documents that are effective and current in all 50 states, not to mention addressing the various peculiarities of individual counties and individual judges. The fact that judges can and usually do find numerous errors in the documents during a very brief scanning at the prove up hearing is evidence of just how bad a job these form websites do.

My basic view on representing yourself is this: if you have no assets, no liabilities, no children, and you are just unable to financially afford a lawyer, then go ahead take a stab at representing yourself. However, for most people their divorce case will be the most significant financial and legal event of their life and it needs to be handled correctly. If it is not handled correctly the hidden error is likely to reveal itself at some later date.

Here is an example. Early in my career I was visited by a lady who had been divorced several years prior. Her ex-husband was now retired from the military and receiving his pension. During the divorce neither party had been represented by an attorney and the husband had handled the paperwork. She admitted to me that at the time she would have signed any document he asked her to and given him anything he wanted. She just wanted out of the marriage, an attitude shared by many going through divorce who later regret it.

Now she wondered if she had any right to a portion of his pension, since they had been married for about 15 of his 20 years of military service. I expected to find in the Decree the standard boilerplate language awarding all of retirement assets to the party in whose name it was held.

To my amazement the Decree was silent on the issue of retirement benefits division. It simply did not address that asset. You can guess the rest of the story. I filed a petition to divide undivided property and within a relatively short time she was receiving nearly $1000 a month out of husband’s pension.

In this case the end result was a just one and I was happy to help her achieve it. But you can bet her ex-husband felt otherwise. He could have easily avoided the result by not being so cheap and hiring a lawyer. Even the most mediocre of family law attorneys would not have made that mistake. Over the course of his life that error could end up costing him $100,000, $200,000, or more.

While this might seem like a dramatic example of a pro se error, I can give you many, many more just from the ones I have personally seen. The errors involve child support, visitation, conservatorship, alimony, property division, etc., you name it.

The bottom line is that your divorce case is far too significant and important to just hope you get it right. You need to be certain that it is handled correctly and you can only do this by hiring a quality divorce lawyer.

Memphis TN Parenting Plans FAQ’s

Here are the answers to questions that our Memphis divorce attorneys get asked most often regarding Tennessee Parenting Plans.

Q: What does a Parenting Plan have in it?

A: It has the schedule of whom the children are with and when they are with them on a day-to-day basis. It also has the schedule of where the children will spend holidays, days off from school, and other special days (such as birthdays). The Parenting Plan lists who will be providing the health and/or dental insurance for the children and who will be supplying the child support. The Plan will also include an allocation of parental responsibilities; that is, who makes the decisions for the children. Finally, if necessary, the Parenting Plan will have a list of reasons that require limiting the parenting time and decision making of one of the parents and in what amount the parenting time and decision making should be limited.

Q: When is a Parenting Plan required?

A: A Permanent Parenting Plan is required in any final decree or decree for modification in an action for absolute divorce, legal separation, annulment, or separate maintenance involving a minor child issued after January 1, 2001. Temporary Parenting Plans are required in any temporary orders of the court in actions for absolute divorce, legal separation, annulment, or separated maintenance involving a minor child issued after January 1, 2001.

Basically if you are receiving a divorce in Memphis and have children you will be required to file a parenting plan with the court along with your divorce papers.

Q: Who has to fill out a Parenting Plan?

A: The parties or their attorneys fill out the Parenting Plan. If the parties cannot agree to the terms of a Permanent or Temporary Parenting Plan, each parent files his or her own Plan with the Court and will, usually go on to mediation to resolve the differences.

In Memphis when there is an uncontested divorce usually both parties will agree to everything that is to be included in the parenting plan and either the husband or wife will file it or have their Memphis divorce lawyer file it.

Q: Where do I get a Parenting Plan?

A: Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-404 requires that a parenting plan form shall be used consistently by each court within the state that approves parenting plans pursuant to §36-6-403 or §36-6-404″. The form is to be used on and after July 1, 2005. The form and instructions are located here.

Your Memphis divorce lawyer will have the proper form that is required. If you would like to see what these forms look like read our previous post here for an example.

Q: Who fills out the Parenting Plan, my lawyer or me?

A: You or your Memphis divorce lawyer can fill out the Parenting Plan. You may wish to have your lawyer help you (or your lawyer may wish to have you help him or her) fill out the details of the Plan.

Q: What if I don’t have a lawyer?

A: You can fill out the Plan by yourself and submit it to the Court for approval. If you and your spouse are in mediation, the mediator may help the two of you decide how to fill out the Plan once you have reached agreements on parts of the Plan.

Q: What if my spouse (or ex-spouse) and I don’t agree on some of the parts of the Parenting Plans?

A: You can use a mediator (on your own initiative or by order of the Court) to help you reach an agreement with your spouse. If mediation does not work, the Court will hold a hearing and will determine and order a Parenting Plan for you in the best interests of your children. This occurs most often in contested divorces.

Q: If my spouse filed a Parenting Plan, do I file my own Parenting Plan?

A: If you and your spouse agree on the Parenting Plan submitted to the Court, then you do not need to file a Plan of your own. If you do not agree with all of the parts of the Plan submitted by your spouse, then you should file your own Plan. With respect to a Temporary Parenting Plan, the new law requires that “each party shall submit a proposed temporary parenting plan and a verified statement of income as defined by title 36, chapter 5, and a verified statement that the plan is proposed in good faith and is in the best interest of the child.” T.C.A. § 36-6-403(a)(2). With respect to a Permanent Parenting Plan, the law requires that “[i]f the parties have not reached agreement on a permanent parenting plan on or before forty-five (45) days before the date set for trial, each party shall file and serve a proposed permanent parenting plan, even though the parties may continue to mediate or negotiate. Failure to comply by a party may result in the court’s adoption of the plan filed by the opposing party if the court finds such plan to be in the best interests of the child.” T.C.A. § 36-6-404(c)(3).

Q: When do I file my Parenting Plan?

A: The Local Rules of the Court determine the specifics of when to file your Parenting Plan. In Memphis divorces you will file your proposed Temporary Plan with the divorce Complaint (if you are the plaintiff), Petition (if you are the Petitioner), Response (if you are the respondent), or Answer (if you are the defendant). The proposed Permanent Parenting Plan is generally filed prior to 45 days before the date set for the trial. T.C.A. § 36-6-404(c)(3).

Q: Where do I file my Parenting Plan?

A: The Parenting Plan is filed with the Clerk of the Court. The Clerk will then enter the Plan into the case file for the Judge or Chancellor to look over. Most Memphis divorces are filed with the Shelby County Circuit Clerk.

What is a Parenting Plan?

As Memphis divorce lawyers we know that someone facing divorce have many questions, especially when there are children involved. One of the most frequent questions we hear in our Germantown law office is “What is a Parenting Plan?”

A Parenting Plan is way for Memphis parents who are divorcing (or even divorced) to plan for the parenting of their children after a divorce. The Parenting Plan recognizes that it is vitally important that the parent-child relationship remain as close as possible to help ensure the welfare of the child. In most situations, children do best when they receive the emotional and financial support of both parents. Every component of the Parenting Plan is designed to focus on the child’s best interest.

Development of a permanent Parenting Plan for those who are going through both uncontested and contested divorces provides parents with an opportunity to establish a road map for future parenting of the child. If the plan is properly set up and thought out it can can serve as a successful tool in reducing conflict between the divorcing parents. It is vital however that the plan is prepared in thoughtful, rational discussion rather than in heated emotional exchanges. It removes legal jargon and replaces it with common, everyday terms, and sets the framework to develop a family reorganization. The Plan can work to preserve family relationships. It encourages both parents to make their children the number one priority, and to see the need for the children to maintain a close, continuing relationship with each parent. The Parenting Plan enables both parents to remain involved in major decisions including education, religion, and medical care.

The Parenting Plan attempts to move away from the concepts of “custody” and “visitation” to emphasize the concept of “parenting responsibilities.” The overall goal and objective of the Plan is to lessen the hostility and encourage parents to work cooperatively in the best interests of their children. As parents working together, you will make the major decisions including education, religion, and medical care. You will make the decisions on how to resolve future issues as you continue to parent your children.

If you would actually like to see an example of what a parenting plan looks like see our previous post here.

How Can I Stop My Ex-Wife From Using the Credit Card I’m Paying For?

I was recently divorced. Part of the divorce decree ordered me to pay credit cards that are in my ex wife’s name. I’ve requested that the bills be sent to me so I can see what is owed and to make sure I am not paying for stuff she is still charging. The credit card companies won’t tell me anything, because the cards are in her name, but they will take my money. I can’t close the accounts and she refuses to do so or to sign paperwork so the bills will come to my address. What can I do?

It’s certainly understandable that you do not want to foot the bill for your old spouse’s new shoes, but unfortunately the credit card companies don’t see it that way — they just want their money.

Probably your best option would be to pay another visit to the judge who entered the final divorce decree. Go back to court and ask the judge to order your ex to deliver copies of the various statements to you immediately. This is the only definitive way for you to know what charges were actually incurred during the marriage, making you responsible for paying them. You may also want to ask the judge to clarify that you’re not responsible for any charges made after your marriage was over.