Acceptable Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee
A trusted source for divorce counsel in Knoxville for more than 40 years
In the state of Tennessee, you can file for divorce under two grounds: fault and irreconcilable differences (Tennessee’s equivalent of “no fault.”) And while the urge to claim that the divorce is the fault of your significant other may be strong, your circumstances must fit within the legal definition of fault in order to do so. At LaFevor & Slaughter in Knoxville, our skilled divorce attorneys can help you understand what “fault” really means in a divorce proceeding, and offer you practical guidance and legal strategies designed with your best interests for your future in mind.
Grounds for divorce in Tennessee
A “no fault” divorce occurs when two spouses agree that they have irreconcilable differences and the marriage cannot be saved. They simply cannot live as husband and wife any longer, and choose to file for divorce to end their marriage. The grounds in a no-fault divorce is always “irreconcilable differences.” A no-fault divorce is different from a legal separation, where a couple remains legally married but lives in separate residences, divides their property and develops a plan for child custody and support, if necessary. It is also different from an uncontested divorce, which occurs when the parties cannot agree on grounds, support, custody or property division.
The remaining grounds for divorce in Tennessee under the state law are, in brief:
- The inability to procreate
- The wife being pregnant by another man without the knowledge of the husband at time of the marriage
- Desertion or absence without reasonable cause for a year
- Abandonment (or pushed the spouse from the home for no good cause without support)
- Criminal conviction that “renders the party infamous” or a felony that lands your spouse in prison
- Attempting to kill your spouse
- Refusal to move to Tennessee with your spouse for two years without reasonable cause
- “Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs” contracted after marriage
- “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.
There are specific requirements to each of these grounds that are best discussed in our office, given that the laws can change at any time, and that some circumstances may seem like one ground for divorce but actually fall into another category.
When grounds affect the rest of the divorce proceedings
It is important to remember that why you file for divorce could have an impact on the remainder of the proceeding. For example: if you file for divorce under cruel and inhumane treatment, and we are able to provide evidence that your spouse is abusive towards you or your children, then you stand a greater chance of being granted sole physical or legal parenting of your children. However, if you are seeking a divorce because your spouse committed adultery, you are not guaranteed a “better” alimony award; in truth, you are not guaranteed an award at all. This is because child custody and parenting time are determined in the best interests of the children, while spousal support is granted based on the ruling of the judge using different criteria.
These issues may be further exacerbated if you or your spouse are active duty, reserve or veteran service members. Any member of the armed forces whose spouse is claiming abandonment even if that person had orders to deploy, should immediate seek out counsel with experience helping military families through a divorce in Tennessee. Firm founder Jim LaFevor has spent the better part of four decades working closely with service members in all branches of the armed forces, and is intimately familiar with how the rules and regulations change with each branch.
Your options could change depending on how you file for divorce in Tennessee
Filing for a divorce can be complicated; let us help you through the process. At LaFevor & Slaughter, you always works with a skilled attorney who puts your best interests first. To schedule a consultation, please call us at 865.272.4454 or contact our Knoxville office.