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What are the Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee?

Couple looking at divorce options

If you and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways, the next step would be to file for divorce. All states allow for a no-fault divorce, meaning the filing spouse only needs to state “irreconcilable differences.” Some other states, including Tennessee, allow you to seek a fault-based divorce, where one spouse alleges that the other’s bad conduct led to the downfall of their marriage. These types of divorces can have a significant impact on the case, which is why it’s important to become familiar with it.

Our lawyers at Peterson White, LLP are here to guide you through your separation with ease. Below, we’re breaking down the different grounds for divorce in Tennessee so that you can better understand the divorce process.

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Grounds for Divorce in TN

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

As we previously mentioned, irreconcilable differences can be used as a reason for divorce. This is a way of explaining that the couple cannot get along, and there is no chance for a reconciliation.

Another no-fault ground couples can base their divorce on is separation. This requires that:

  • both spouses have lived apart for at least 2 years, continuously
  • during the 2 year period, the couple cannot have cohabitated as man and wife
  • the couple does not have minor children

Fault Grounds for Divorce

  1. Impotence: If one spouse is impotent and his inability to procreate existed before the marriage, it would be reasonable grounds for divorce. Being unable to procreate is not sufficient on its own to qualify as a fault, the spouse must also be unable to have sex.

  2. Bigamy: In Tennessee, you can only be married to one person. If one spouse is still married and attempts to marry a second spouse, the latter marriage would be void. This is clarified in Tennessee’s statute, 36-4-101 (bonds of matrimony). It is also a Class A misdemeanor under criminal code section, 39-15-301.

  3. Adultery: If one spouse has an extramarital affair, the other spouse can use it as a reason for separation. Infidelity is one of the most common grounds for granting a fault divorce, but it can be challenging to prove in court. There needs to be significant evidence, as well as proof that both parties did not agree to the affair in advance. There are two types of evidence to prove adultery, direct and circumstantial. Direct is just as it sounds, it can be from eye-witness testimony or picture. Circumstantial evidence involves identifying the opportunity that your spouse had to have a sexual relationship with someone outside the marriage.

  4. Desertion: If one spouse willfully or maliciously deserts the other spouse without a reasonable cause, he or she can request this ground for divorce. Be prepared to provide evidence showing 1) the amount of time you were deserted 2) the complete cutoff of communication.

  5. Criminal conviction: Conviction of crimes viewed as “infamous” in Tennessee, such as bribery, forgery, incest, and larceny, is enough reasoning for a divorce. The same applies to spouses convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison.

  6. Attempted Murder of the Other Spouse: The attempted murder must be malicious and deliberate for it to be grounds for a divorce. For example, poisoning the other spouse.

  7. Refusal to move: Courts will allow a divorce to a spouse residing in Tennessee if the other spouse intentionally refuses to move to the state for two years. The spouse asking for the divorce must also show that he or she did not cohabitate as man or wife during that 2-year span. The spouse must also show that the couple does not have minor children together.

  8. Pregnancy by another person: When the wife was pregnant with another person during their marriage without the other spouse’s knowledge.

  9. Cruel and inhuman treatment: This category includes a wide range of conduct and mistreatment. It can be verbal and physical assaults, domestic violence, failure to provide a suitable living condition, and more.

  10. Alcohol or drug abuse: Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of one spouse that the other was unaware of prior to getting married.

  11. Indignities: For a divorce to be granted on indignities, you must provide evidence that your spouse has consistently acted in such rudeness, hate, abuse, and neglect towards you to render your life intolerable.

  12. Abandonment: This occurs when one spouse has abandoned the other out of their home and refuses to provide support for the ousted spouse.

Contact Peterson White, LLP for Your Divorce

Each of these fault-based grounds can complicate the divorce process and affect everything from custody and alimony to the division of assets and child support. Our lawyers at Peterson White, LLP are committed to providing compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation to get you through your family matter.

Take the first step to the next chapter of your life by reaching out to our office today online or at (855) 919-4124.