What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee?Tennessee spouses can obtain either a no-fault divorce or, essentially, an “at-fault” divorce. Both can affect other family law legal issues such as property division and alimony. We’ll get into the differences in a bit, but in the most general sense, in an at-fault divorce, once spouse asserts that the other spouse committed some type of bad conduct. A no-fault divorce still requires that all open family law matters be resolved. There is no requirement to assert any type of bad behavior or neglect in a no-fault divorce.

No-fault divorce grounds in Tennessee

There are two types of no-fault grounds for divorce:

Irreconcilable differences. Here, both spouses agree that the marriage isn’t working and that it’s time to divorce and move on.

Separation. If one spouse doesn’t formally agree that the marriage should end, the other spouse can obtain a divorce if he/she can show that:

  • The spouses have lived separate and apart for two continuous years or more
  • The spouses haven’t cohabited/lived as husband and wife during the separation period
  • There are no minor children

If you and your spouse can agree to all the terms of your divorce – how you’ll split your assets, how you’ll handle alimony, how you’ll create your parenting plan – then you can file for an uncontested divorce. (You can find the forms you need here.)

Fault grounds for divorce in Tennessee

There are 13 fault grounds. These grounds are:

  1. One spouse, at the time of the marriage, was and is still incapable of procreation.
  2. A spouse knowingly entered into a marriage with a second person.
  3. One spouse voluntarily had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse.
  4. One spouse willfully or maliciously deserted the other spouse – for one year without reasonable cause.
  5. Crime of infamy. A spouse committed a state crime that Tennessee considers infamous.
  6. Commission of a felony. A spouse commits a crime that is considered a felony in the state where the spouses is charged with the crime and the spouse is sentenced to a jail or prison.
  7. An attempt to kill the other spouse. This offense requires a showing of malice. Death by poison is an example.
  8. Refusal to move out of state. A spouse refuses to relocate to Tennessee with the other spouse, without having a reasonable justification. The refusal to move to Tennessee must last for two years.
  9. A man can seek a fault divorce if the woman was pregnant when the marriage took place and her husband didn’t know about the pregnancy – provided the husband is not the father.
  10. Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs. This fault ground requires showing that the other spouse did not know the habitual/abusive state existed when they married.
  11. Cruel and inhuman treatment. No spouse should have to stay with a spouse who makes living together unsafe.
  12. A spouse who makes the other spouse’s life intolerable can be divorced on the ground of indignity.
  13. One spouse leaves the martial home or forces the other spouse out of the house – if the spouse who is being charged with abandonment refused or neglected to provide for the innocent spouse.

At Kevin Shepherd and Associates, P.C. our Maryville divorce lawyers are ready to guide spouses through the Tennessee divorce process. We explain your rights and identify your financial needs and parental desires. We then plan the best course of legal action starting with asserting the right grounds for divorce. To speak with our respected attorneys, please call us at 865.225.9655 or complete our contract form.




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