Emotional Affairs and Adultery in Tennessee

Emotional Affairs and Adultery in Tennessee

One of the most common causes of divorce in the United States is one or the other spouse being unfaithful. Everyone has a different moral compass. Some consider an affair as physical infidelity, while others may also consider emotional affairs adultery.

While either of these actions can lead to divorce, the law in Tennessee does not consider emotional affairs adultery. It’s essential to understand this when going through a divorce in Tennessee. In this article, we will discuss the differences between emotional affairs and adultery, grounds for divorce in Tennessee, how adultery affects alimony, child custody and support, and the division of marital property after an affair.

Emotional Affairs vs. Adultery in Tennessee

While you may see both emotional and physical affairs as adultery, there are some distinct differences between the two. Let’s take a look at the factors that you should look for when determining if it is, in fact, adultery.

Emotional Affairs

Physical intimacy is not always involved in cheating. In an emotional affair, there is no physical intimacy involved. An emotional affair happens when two people have a personal connection that crosses boundaries. The bond resulting from an emotional affair resembles a close romantic relationship and could involve being attracted to each other romantically or sexual tension.

Some things you may notice if your spouse is having an emotional affair can include the following:

  • Keeping in touch with exes in secret messages.
  • Being on the phone at all times of the day.
  • Frequently texting back and forth.
  • Hiding or locking phones or computers.
  • Removing incriminating evidence such as text messages, emails, and phone logs.
  • Meeting for drinks or dinner.


When people think of an affair, adultery is typically what they think of. Adultery involves voluntary sexual contact with a person who isn’t your spouse while you are still married, including the time between your separation and the date that your divorce is finalized.

Some signs that your spouse may be having an affair can include:

  • Changes in the way they treat you.
  • Pulling away from you emotionally.
  • Changes in their physical appearance.
  • Unexplained changes in their regular schedule.
  • Suspicious bank withdraws.
  • Being overly protective of their phone.

Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee

Tennessee Code § 36-4-101 defines the grounds of divorce in Tennessee. Along with adultery, other legal grounds for divorce in Tennessee include:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • One of the spouses is still married to someone else
  • Inability to have children
  • Substance abuse
  • Cruel or inhumane treatment (emotional affairs may fall under this category based on your circumstances)
  • Pregnancy by someone other than your spouse
  • Indignities
  • Desertion
  • Abandonment
  • Conviction of a crime rendering the person infamous
  • Felony conviction with a prison sentence
  • Bigamy or Polygamy
  • Refusal to locate to Tennessee after the marriage
  • Spouses with no minor children who haven’t cohabitated for two or more continuous years

The grounds for your divorce are important because they can impact the outcome of your divorce. If one person is proven to have been the reason the marriage didn’t work, it can affect factors such as if and how much alimony will be awarded, who receives custody of the children, and what type of custody will be granted.

Providing Evidence of Adultery

Often, the cheating spouse will admit to their indiscretions, but if they fail to admit it, the burden of proof is placed on the spouse accusing the other of adultery. Evidence of adultery can include:

  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Hotel receipts
  • Phone records
  • Emails, chats, or text messages about the affair
  • Photos
  • Video footage
  • Witness statements

Adultery and Alimony in Tennessee

Alimony is financial support one spouse pays the other spouse after a divorce. Fault is the main factor when determining alimony in Tennessee. So, if there is proof that one spouse committed adultery and that was the main reason for the divorce, the judge may require that person to pay alimony.

Adultery and Child Custody and Support in Tennessee

The court’s main priority regarding child custody and support is the child’s best interest. Although adultery isn’t a crime, it can show a lack of good judgment and lead the courts to view that parent as unfit, leading to a reduced amount of parenting time for the cheating spouse.

The court will consider additional factors such as the parent’s ability to care for the child, their ability to provide for the child, and how involved they are in their child’s life. That being said, if the court finds that remaining with the parent who committed adultery is in the child’s best interest, this factor becomes a priority.

Adultery and the Division of Marital Property in Tennessee

Tennessee uses equitable distribution when dividing marital assets in a divorce. This means that the assets are split in a way that is fair to both parties, which may not necessarily mean a 50/50 split.

Adultery is typically not a factor when the courts consider dividing assets. However, if the extramarital affair used marital funds to pay for expenses related to the affair, the court can adjust the equities to help the injured spouse reclaim part of what was used to fund the affair.

Turn to Attorney Hunter Fowler, a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney Who Listens

Divorce is difficult in and of itself, and adding adultery makes it even more emotional and challenging. You have every right to end your marriage if your spouse has had an adulterous affair or has expressed that their romantic interests lie elsewhere. However, knowing the legal consequences of each type of infidelity and having a qualified divorce attorney on your side will help you successfully navigate the process of your divorce.

Attorney Hunter Fowler understands the emotional and legal challenges you can face during your divorce. He will guide you through the process and provide you with the best legal representation possible. As your Murfreesboro divorce attorney, Hunter will continuously seek ways to benefit you as much as possible.

If you’re ready to work with an attorney who listens and who will fight for you, contact us today to schedule a consultation.