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New forms make divorce cheaper for low-income families with children

Staff Reports • Sep 27, 2017 at 12:52 PM

New forms from the Tennessee Supreme Court allow low-income families who meet certain guidelines to get a divorce without hiring an attorney.

The forms, which went into effect July 1, are for married couples who seek a divorce and have children who are younger than 18, in high school or disabled. The couple can't own buildings, land or a business together or have retirement benefits.

“It’s a simplified process,” said attorney and Lawyers Association of Women Domestic Violence Committee co-chair Allison Cooley. “It’s always been a good way for low-income people to save money in the divorce process, and now people with kids can do it.”

One major stipulation for using the forms is both parties must agree on alimony and child support amount. Both must also sign a divorce agreement.

“It’s very specific on who can use the forms,” said Cooley. “We still always recommend that you see an attorney during the process.”

If a married couple who wants to divorce meets the criteria for these forms, Cooley recommends they take advantage of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

“Why go through the process of trying to find the funds to pay for an attorney?” said Cooley. “This can be a great resource for these types of families.”

Cooley’s organization, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, may hold an information session to help people decide if the forms can be used in their situations.

“We haven’t got a good response in the past,” said Cooley. “We’re really just looking into whether people would come or not.”

For more information on the new divorce forms and a more detailed guideline on who can use them, visit tncourts.gov/forms-publications.

 

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