Hello again Alex,
Thanks for writing back...great to hear from you!
You're quite welcome...my pleasure entirely to be of help!
Sure, logical questions each one, and I'm glad to expound.
First, if I may, just as a general comment, the real "guts" or main points of an uncontested divorce
(no way around them) are: (1) Complaint (starts the case); (2) Final Hearing (either attendance or a valid waiver -- sometimes called a "show up" -- not an adversarial proceeding, but certain basic requisites must be placed on the record in terms of residency requirements and so forth); and (3) Decree (ends the case). It's the "in-between" where all of the hassle and drawn out litigation proceedings can take place in a contested case.
Now, turning to your latest post, I'll take your additional questions in the order presented to try and stay organized, as follow:
(1) "Complaint - In my packet it is called "Petition for Divorce"... will that work? This document contains info about my wife and myself, the facts about the marriage, a summary of the parenting plan and support order, and the requests pertaining to the actions petitioned - name change, etc."
Yes, absolutely. These terms are interchangeable and sometimes even Judges and lawyers mix it up a bit. Just for a simple example, in Texas most everything (in terms of starting a case, most any sort of case, not just a divorce) is a "Petition", whereas in California it's a "Complaint". To be precise, the Tennessee Statutes do use the word "Petition", which is rather common in the more Southern States. If the program allows, just change the word from "Complaint" to "Petition".
(2) "Financial affidavit for both petitioner and respondent - not in your list, but gives a summary of our monthly income and expenses.
Declaration of Jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Act - Also not in your list, but states the presiding court has jurisdiction to determine custody, etc."
Yes, both of these make sense and represent more modern innovations. In some jurisdictions they are quite mandatory in every case, whereas in others there's more leniency. In Tennessee, the emphasis is on the information over necessarily the forms. The law actually spells out the required contents of a Petition here: Tennessee Code §36-4-106. By using these two documents you'll cover both bases in terms of financial data and custody. I would go ahead and use what the packet provides.
(3) "Parenting Plan - we've included all details of visitation and custody in this document, including a statement of rights for each parent and the statement that we will share custody. I've also included the Child Support worksheet with this filing."
Yep, sounds great. Right on track.
(4) "Marital Settlement Agreement - we've included details about how all assets will be divided in this document, including houses, car, and cash settlement of my 401k plan."
Yes, again, that sounds just right, nothing of concern.
(5) "Final Decree - not yet filed, waiting for our hearing, but it contains a summary of the entire affair. Also, I filed on 1/31/13... what is the soonest I can request my hearing date, and how far out from the request date should I expect the hearing to be?"
Yes, that's the correct procedure. It's quite simple. The Judge will ask you a handful of simple standard questions, no "traps". Just things like confirming the date of the marriage, the number of kids, that you do want the divorce, how long you've lived there, etc. Thereafter, the Judge signs your Final Decree, and you're done. Generally it's quite literally a five minute or so procedure. Judges are quite used to pro se divorce parties and will typically put you at ease and just walk you right through the process. With minor, unmarried children the minimum waiting period between filing the Petition and the Final Hearing is 90 days. You can go ahead and request your date right now for as close to the 90 day mark as the Docket will allow in terms of scheduling.
Hope that helps some more and that all goes smoothly!
Kind regards, Ben