To initiate a divorce in Tennessee, spouses must present the court with at least one of the 15 acceptable reasons, known as grounds, for dissolving a marriage. Two of the grounds trigger a no-fault divorce, while the rest will initiate a fault-based proceeding. The court treats each differently, which has a big effect on how the divorce turns out.
What are the grounds for divorce in Tennessee?
In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse has to prove that the other’s wrongdoing is to blame for ending the marriage. It is a simpler and faster approach to divorce since it removes the need for litigation.
If both spouses agree, they can cite one of the two grounds to initiate a no-fault divorce in Tennessee:
- Irreconcilable differences
- Long-term separation
Still, even if the spouses do not want to point fingers at each other, they may not see eye to eye on all divorce-related decisions, such as child custody, property division and alimony. Instead of fighting it out in court, they can resolve their differences through mediation.
Meanwhile, if one party believes that the other is at fault, they can pursue the following grounds for divorce:
- Impotence or inability to have children
- Desertion for at least a year
- “Infamous” crime conviction
- Felony conviction
- Attempted murder of spouse
- Refusal to move
- Concealed pregnancy
- Alcoholism or drug addiction
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
If any of these grounds apply and are proven true, it may impact the judge’s decisions as it would mean one party is responsible for causing the marriage to fall apart. For instance, a spouse found guilty of cheating may have to pay a higher alimony amount as compensation.
Considerations before you choose
No-fault divorces do not always mean that nothing was wrong during the marriage. Instead, the divorcing parties may have decided that working together is preferable rather than going through a lengthy trial and letting the judge make the decisions.
On the other hand, fault-based divorces often involve resentment, anger and other complex feelings. People want to settle scores or come out on top. However, taking this path can take longer, cost more and be emotionally taxing.
The reality is that not all marriages are built to last. Those considering divorce should take the path that best helps them move forward. Sitting down with a seasoned family law attorney can shed some light on the benefits and disadvantages of each approach.