Information the State Needs to Know When You File for Divorce

The divorce process begins with the filing of a document called a complaint. The term “complaint” refers to the initial document filed with the court that starts a lawsuit. It generally describes the facts of the lawsuit and what the person filing the lawsuit wants the court to do. In the case of a divorce, the complaint will set forth certain facts, list the grounds for divorce and then request the court grant the divorce, divide the property, set child support and alimony and any other relief the filing party is requesting.

Unlike most other types of cases, divorce cases must be filed in court. Additionally, the divorce complaint must be verified, meaning it must be signed under oath in front of a notary public. Almost all other types of cases can be settled without the need to file anything in court and without any involvement in the judicial process. Because the state has an interest in families and marriage, divorces can only be granted by the state. This is done by having a judge hear the evidence, determine whether a divorce is appropriate and if so, grant the divorce. In the case of an uncontested divorce, the judge will review the agreement to insure it is fair and equitable and if so, grant the divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

The divorce complaint must contain certain information about you and your spouse. This information is often referred to as statistical information. The following information must be included in the statistical information section of every divorce complaint filed in the state of Tennessee:


· The full name of the husband and the full maiden name of the wife

· The dates and places of birth of each spouse

· The race or color of each spouse

· The number of previous marriages of each spouse

· The date and place of the marriage of the parties

· The number of children who are minors at the time of the filing of the complaint


In addition to the complaint, the spouse filing the divorce is required to file a separate document that is held by the court under seal, containing the full names and social security numbers, current mailing addresses and dates of birth of the husband, the wife, and those of all children born of the marriage.

At the conclusion of the divorce case, a form called Certificate of Divorce is filed with the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records by the clerk of the court. That certificate contains the statistical information contained in the complaint and also includes information about your education level, the court where the divorce was granted and even the names of the judge and attorneys involved.


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