What are the Grounds for Divorce Under Tennessee Law?

What are the Grounds for Divorce Under Tennessee Law?

Unfortunately, married life doesn’t always work out as planned — and filing for divorce can be a complicated process. If you’re considering divorce in TN, there are specific guidelines and rules that you should be aware of. 

For example:

  • You must reside in the state for a minimum of 60 days before filing for divorce.
  • A divorce must be on file for 60 days before being heard in a court of law (if there are no children under 18 from the marriage) or 90 days (if there are children under 18 from the marriage). The time begins from the day the divorce is filed. 
  • Proving grounds for divorce in the state of Tennessee is required if both spouses can’t come to a reasonable agreement.

Let’s take a look at some of the grounds for divorce in Tennessee, the stipulations behind the proof required, and how it may affect both parties’ settlements. 

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee

A no-fault divorce is one in which the spouse who files for the divorce doesn’t need to prove fault at the hand of their spouse or show evidence of inappropriate behavior within the marriage. 

This is also known as a divorce of “irreconcilable differences.” The couple can’t/won’t get along anymore, and they can’t reconcile their differences to save the marriage. 

Tennessee allows for filing divorce on no-fault grounds, provided that neither spouse claims misconduct on the part of the other. 

Aside from irreconcilable differences, Tennessee couples filing for divorce can also base their divorce on the grounds of separation. This, however, requires several things:

  • Both spouses have lived apart/separately for two years or more, consecutively
  • No cohabitation as man and wife during this time frame
  • No children under the age of 18 

Both parties must agree to and settle the divorce in all aspects, including a plan for any children within the marriage (under a court order). 

Fault Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee

Contrary to no-fault grounds, fault grounds for divorce in the state of Tennessee implies inappropriate conduct from one spouse, leading to the other spouse filing for divorce. This is also known as an absolute divorce. 

There are 15 faults for divorce in TN, two of which do not require any evidentiary support in a hearing or trial. 

The fault grounds for divorce in Tennessee include: 

  • Irreconcilable differences (agreement by both parties that the marriage cannot be saved)
  • Impotence (must have existed before the marriage and must be incurable)
  • Bigamy (polygamy is not legal in Tennessee)
  • Adultery (spouse must prove the other spouse is guilty or inclined to commit adultery) 
  • Desertion for one year or more (must be malicious, intentional, or without just cause)
  • Felony conviction (spouse must be convicted of a crime and sent to prison)
  • Infamous crime (bribery, breaking, and entering, incest, robbery, rape, forgery, etc.)
  • Attempted murder of the other spouse (must be malicious or deliberate)
  • Alcohol or drug abuse (spouse must not have known about other spouse’s drug or alcohol abuse prior to the marriage and must prove habitual intoxication)
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment (domestic violence, degrading treatment, long-term abuse)
  • Being willfully absent from spouse in Tennessee for two years or more (if the other spouse elects to move outside the state)
  • Pregnancy (from someone other than the husband, without husband’s knowledge, at the time of the marriage)
  • Unsafe conditions for remaining in the marriage 
  • Abandonment (husband abandons, or refuses to provide for, his wife or one spouse kicks the other out and refuses to provide for them)
  • Malicious intent/ill-will/inflicting physical pain on spouse

Fault for divorce is typically presented as evidence in an introductory hearing or trial. Evidence can include witnesses giving testimony or documentation proving any of the above circumstances that would indicate marital misconduct. 

If one spouse is indeed found at fault for any of the above actions, marital assets, custody, and alimony may be affected. According to Tennessee divorce law, marital misconduct considered in an at-fault divorce case can result in longer and higher alimony payments as well as how/when they are paid. 

Considering Filing for Divorce in TN and Need Legal Advice? 

You don’t just need someone to guide you through the complexities behind filing for divorce. You need someone who will listen and win the best possible outcome for you. 

Experienced Tennessee divorce attorney Hunter Fowler is here to help you through the divorce process. 

He has handled many divorce cases just like yours and will work through your divorce with and for you, fighting for the outcome that works best for you and your family. 

From establishing temporary parenting plans to simply filling you in on Tennessee divorce law in all of its details, we are here for you. Contact us today to get the legal counsel you deserve.