Tennessee Approves Forms for Uncontested Divorce Cases with Children

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently adopted statewide forms for parties in uncontested divorce cases with minor children. The plain-language forms and instructions will go into effect statewide January 1, 2017, and are available to spouses who: have minor children together; do not own real property; do not have any retirement accounts; and agree on all aspects of the divorce. Universal forms are already available for uncontested divorce cases without children.

The new forms are designed to simplify proceedings for uncontested divorce litigants and arose from recommendations made by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Task Force to Study Self-Represented Litigants. According to Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark, these forms “are a way for those who don’t qualify for free legal help to access our court system and better understand the legal process for their divorce.”

The HFI Cases Without Counsel study of self-representation highlighted the difficulties that self-represented litigants encounter with forms, filings, and paperwork in their family court case. Furthermore, the Cases Without Counsel findings support the notion that parties with less complex, uncontested cases have different needs than those with complex, contested cases. HFI’s recommendations for process and procedure changes in family court include simplifying components of the process.