Can The Family Court Judge Deny My Divorce?
So, you have decided to divorce your spouse. You believe you have proper grounds for divorce, and you’re ready to get this marriage over with as soon as possible. Then, when you present your case to the judge, he/she denies your divorce. You didn’t even know something like this could happen. What now?
Can a family court judge force you to stay in an unhappy marriage? When your divorce is refused, what are your options? Can you go back and try again? Today, we’ll try to provide some answers. But don’t worry; you won’t be married for the rest of your life – we promise.
Proving grounds for divorce in Tennessee
Here in Tennessee, when you file for divorce, you must either declare grounds for divorce, or file a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences” and have a settlement agreement ready to go. However, if irreconcilable differences isn’t the case and you do have grounds for divorce, it’s a bit of a different story.
State domestic code lists a variety of grounds for divorce, and to be honest, they’re pretty legit reasons to want one. They include:
- Abandonment (or pushed the spouse from the home for no good cause without support)
- Attempting to kill your spouse
- Criminal conviction that “renders the party infamous” or a felony that lands your spouse in prison
- Desertion or absence without reasonable cause for a year
- “Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs” contracted after marriage
- Inability to procreate
- “Inappropriate marital conduct,” sometimes called cruel and inhumane behavior
- Living apart for at least two years, provided you do not have children under the age of 18
- Living under the terms of a legal separation order for two or more years without reconciling
- Refusal to move to Tennessee with your spouse for two years without reasonable cause
- The wife being pregnant by another man without the knowledge of the husband at time of the marriage
If you want a divorce under one of the listed grounds for divorce under Tennessee law, both you and your spouse must agree on those grounds – and you have to prove it to the judge. So you can’t just go to court and say you want a divorce because your spouse tried to kill you and that’s that. You’re going to need some proof. And if you don’t have it? No divorce for you.
Proving your Knoxville divorce
Okay, that’s an extreme example. If your spouse tried to kill you, they’re probably in jail or there’s a police report and that proof should be enough for the court. But it does show that, if you’re divorcing your spouse using any of Tennessee’s legal grounds, you need to have proof. Examples depend on the particular ground you want to use, but they can include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Private investigator reports
- Proof of residence
- Expert witnesses
- Witness testimony or depositions
- Other forms of evidence
If your divorce is denied by a judge, you can work with a Knoxville family law attorney to find out your options.
Other reasons your divorce may be denied
Failing to prove grounds for divorce isn’t the only reason a judge may bounce your divorce back. When reviewing your divorce settlement, they may find other issues:
- Children. Judges look closely at things like child support and child custody to make sure you and your spouse have settled everything regarding the kids fairly and properly. If they think anything is out of order or you don’t have everything sorted, they may deny your divorce.
- Potential fraud. If either spouse attempts to use fraudulent information (like hiding assets) to gain advantage in the divorce, a judge will likely suss that out and deny the divorce.
- Technical mistakes. Even an error in your paperwork can cause your divorce to be refused. A judge might also deny your divorce if you make a mistake in serving your spouse with divorce papers, don’t meet residency requirements, or fail to provide a proper divorce agreement.
This is why it’s so important to get everything right the first time.
How a Knoxville family law attorney can help
The family law attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter walk you through the divorce process, making sure every form’s filled out properly and you have the evidence to back up all your claims. Whether you come to us when you’re first thinking about divorce, or your divorce was refused by a judge, we can help you achieve your goals.
Especially if you believe your divorce will be contentious and your spouse is going to fight you on every little thing, you’re going to want an attorney on your side. Our team works to reduce conflict so you can focus on getting stuff done – like handling matters involving the kids and settling property division issues – and move on with your life.
Talk to us today about how we can help and ensure you get all the details right from the beginning.
At LaFevor & Slaughter, our family law attorneys are here to help divorcing couples reach their goals in the most amicable way possible. We understand things can get complicated, especially when the court gets involved, and we want to make it easier. For personalized help with your divorce, call our Knoxville lawyers today at (865) 637-6258, or complete our contact form to schedule a case evaluation.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.
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