Divorce More Accessible and Cheaper Under New Tennessee Rule

In an effort to improve access to justice the Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that will allow Tennesseans without minor children or dependents, pension plans, and property or businesses to file for divorce without lawyers. The new rule allows those eligible to use “plain-language” forms for “agreed divorces,” those that are uncontested and bear no significant legal issues. To be eligible, couples must not have children who are minors, disabled, or still in high school; the wife must not be pregnant; the couple must not own any property or a business; they must not have pension plans and the decision to end the marriage must be mutual. If the couple fails to meet these requirements then a lawyer must be retained. However, it is suggested that the couple consult a lawyer when preparing the divorce agreement as a judge may disapprove of the agreement if it is deemed unfair. Likewise, the forms will include easy-to-read instructions that explains what to expect in court, as well as advice on what to wear and how to behave.
These “plain-language” forms were recommended in January by the Access to Justice Commission, an agency appointed by the Supreme Court to research ways to provide more efficient avenues to justice, with an emphasis on cases involving lower income families. Chief Justice Cornelia Clark added, “the forms are not intended to replace the need for an attorney but rather provide a helpful resource for attorneys and also for Tennesseans who choose to file for divorce on their own because the can’t afford to hire an attorney.” The new rule goes into effect September 1 and the forms will be available for download at www.tncourts.gov or www.justiceforalltn.com.
Sources
Tennessee Supremes Approve Do-It-Yourself Divorce Forms, Offer Fashion Advice
Posted By: Eston Whiteside