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Can I Get Divorced in TN If I Was Married in a Different Country?

Typically, marriages which are valid and legally performed in a different country are valid in the United States. So if you were legally married in a different country, you should be able to get divorced in Tennessee. That is, as long as you meet the other requirements to file for a divorce.


In order to file for a divorce in Tennessee, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-4-104 requires that at least one party has residency in Tennessee at least six months prior to filing.  For purposes of a divorce action, “residency” refers to the home of a party. The court considers not only a person’s declarations and conduct but also all other relevant facts and circumstances. To acquire domicile, the party must have no present intention of changing their residence to another state. For the purposes of establishing residence, a person must not only intend to establish a personal home in this state. They must also act consistently with this intention. Factors to consider include obtaining a driver’s license, registering to vote, address change for mail, obtaining utilities, and place of employment.


A party may file for divorce where either the husband or wife resides. If only one party currently resides in Tennessee, you must determine if Tennessee has jurisdiction. Tennessee has a statute that determines when nonresidents are subject to the jurisdiction of Tennessee Courts. The Tennessee long arm statute is codified at  Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-2-214. If the parties resided in Tennessee as a married couple and one party continues to reside in Tennessee, then Tennessee has jurisdiction.

If you and your spouse have lived in Tennessee for over six months, then you can file in Tennessee. This is regardless of whether or not the marriage took place in another country. If you and your spouse lived together in Tennessee as a married couple and you have resided in Tennessee for over six months, you can file for divorce even if you spouse has relocated.  If you live out of state but your spouse has resided in Tennessee for over six months, you can file for divorce in the county where your spouse resides. However, if you live out of state and file in Tennessee where your spouse resides, then you will be submitting yourself to the personal jurisdiction of Tennessee courts. For any questions regarding jurisdiction, it would be wise to consult with an attorney.

If you were married in a different country and need help navigating the divorce process, give us a call at (865) 685-4780. We are here to help.

Melanie Hogg is an attorney at Held Law Firm.