Though the end of a marriage can be emotionally taxing, the grounds for divorce in Tennessee are relatively straightforward. Under the law, a couple looking to end their marriage can either agree that neither party is at fault for the marriage’s failure, or one spouse can argue that the other is at fault on one or more legally recognized grounds.
Tennessee allows married couples to divorce based on irreconcilable differences. This means that while the couple no longer wants to remain married, neither spouse has committed any specific wrongdoing. A divorce based on grounds of irreconcilable differences is known as a no-fault divorce.
Aside from irreconcilable differences, married couples in Tennessee can base no-fault divorce proceedings on the grounds of separation. This requires showing the court that both spouses have willingly lived apart from one another for two or more years and have no children under the age of 18.
Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee
The five main grounds for a fault-based divorce under Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 36, Chapter 4 are:
- Adultery. If one spouse engages in extramarital affairs, the other spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. However, proving adultery on the part of a spouse can be difficult.
- Willful or malicious desertion or abandonment. If one spouse abandons the other without consent or justification for at least one year, the abandoned spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of desertion. While abandonment is typically defined as one spouse leaving the other, it can also be established if one spouse forces the other to be excluded, such as by changing the locks on their home.
- Habitual drunkenness or narcotic drug use. If one spouse is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol, the other spouse may file for divorce on these grounds, but only if the addiction started after the couple was married.
- Cruelty. If one spouse is physically or emotionally abusive towards the other, the victimized spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of cruelty. This is one of the most common grounds under which people file for fault-based divorce.
- Bigamy. If one spouse is legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage, the other spouse can file for divorce on bigamy grounds. Bigamy can also present grounds for an annulment of marriage.
Other less common grounds for divorce pregnancy of the wife by another man at the time of the marriage, one spouse refusing to move with the other spouse to the state of Tennessee, a conviction of a crime rendering a spouse infamous (or a felony conviction), and attempted murder.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The answer to how long the process of divorce can take is, “It depends.” According to Tennessee law, a 60-day waiting period takes place once a divorce complaint is filed. This period extends to 90 days if children are involved. After this waiting period, the process for obtaining a mutual consent, no-fault divorce can last two to six months. Meanwhile, contested divorces have been known to drag on for years. Of course, an experienced divorce attorney can ease this process while ensuring you make the best possible argument in court.
What is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal procedure that effectively cancels a marriage, treating it as if it never happened. Successful annulments are rare, but they can occur if the marriage is deemed illegal or based on fraud or duress. Couples can also seek an annulment if a spouse was already married or if one of the spouses was underage or lacking the mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage.
Find Help with a Divorce Attorney in Murfreesboro, TN
If you want to learn more about grounds for divorce in Tennessee, the experienced legal professionals of Hudson, Reed & Christiansen PLLC can offer guidance and support. Contact us online or call 615-893-5522 to speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Murfreesboro, TN.