What Are Grounds For Divorce In Tennessee?

There are many grounds for divorce in Tennessee. These are all also grounds for legal separation. A trial court may award a divorce to either party, or both, based upon the following grounds:

  • Prior existing marriage: When either party has entered into a second marriage with knowledge that a prior marriage still exists. This may also be a ground for annulment. However, divorce may be more beneficial than annulment for alimony purposes.
  • Adultery: Defined as sexual intercourse entered into voluntarily by a married party with someone other than the spouse. At trial, this may be proven to the court by circumstances that tend to show a disposition toward adultery and an opportunity to do so.
  • Desertion: Continuous and willful or malicious separation for one year with no interruption or offer to return. If justified by the other party's conduct, this ground would not apply. This cannot be a ground if the separation is by agreement or consent.
  • Infamy: A spouse's conviction for a crime that is "infamous" under T.C.A. 40-20-112 and includes child abuse, arson, burglary, incest, larceny, rape, etc.
  • Conviction and imprisonment related to a felony: This may be a felony according to the laws of any state, not just Tennessee. The plaintiff must have a certified or other authenticated copy of the spouse's criminal record.
  • Continuous legal separation: Two years minimum of continuous separation when there are no minor children.
  • Abandonment: Turning a spouse out of the marital home without just cause while refusing to help support the spouse, but having the ability to do so. This must continue to occur for a "reasonable period of time."
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment/inappropriate marital conduct: Engaging in conduct that forces the other spouse to leave the marriage or makes continued cohabitation unsafe or unhealthy. This may include physical or verbal abuse, bullying, flirtation with others, failure to provide, holding a gun to the spouse or making threats, among other behavior.
  • Attempt on life of the spouse: A spouse must attempt to take the life of the other party by an act that is likely to put the other party in fear for his or her life or of bodily harm and must be done with malice.
  • Refusal to follow to Tennessee: A plaintiff has to demonstrate that the defendant has refused to live with the plaintiff after being asked. This ground cannot be used for forum-shopping purposes.
  • Habitual drug use or drinking: The habit must have begun after the marriage.
  • Irreconcilable differences: Can be used without another ground for agreed divorces only
  • Impotency: Party must be naturally impotent and incapable of being able to procreate and prevents consummation of the marriage. Must be permanent or incurable or the party must have refused medical treatment for the issue.
  • Pregnancy before marriage: The wife is pregnant by another man at the time of marriage and the husband had no knowledge.

Getting Help From Our Firm

If you believe you have grounds for divorce and would like to move forward with divorce proceedings — whether they end up being contested or uncontested in nature — then talk to a qualified lawyer from our firm. We can help you understand your rights under the law and how to enforce them.

To schedule a free initial telephone consultation, call 865-566-0125 or send us an email. You may make an appointment at our office in Knoxville, Tennessee. We accept credit cards.