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Grounds for Divorce

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I recently wrote about Inappropriate Marital Conduct, which is the most commonly used grounds for divorce. It is rare that a Complaint for Divorce will include any grounds other than Irreconcilable Differences (“ID”) and/or Inappropriate Marital Conduct. We (divorce lawyers) use inappropriate marital conduct as a sort of umbrella term, to cover all manner of sins. However, there are other grounds allowed by Tennessee statute, and you can use any and all that apply in your case if you really want to.

T.C.A. 36-4-101 provides the following grounds for divorce:

  1. Impotency and the incapability of procreation

  2. Bigamy on the part of either spouse

  3. Adultery on the part of either spouse

  4. Desertion for two years or more

  5. Conviction of a crime that renders the party infamous

  6. Conviction of a crime (felony) and confinement to the penitentiary

  7. Inappropriate marital conduct or cruel and inhuman treatment

  8. Malicious or deliberate attempted murder of that spouse

  9. Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse

  10. Pregnancy at the time of the marriage by another man without the husband’s knowledge

  11. Refusal, on the part of a spouse, to remove with that person’s spouse to this state, without a reasonable cause, and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two (2) years

  12. The husband or wife has offered such indignities to the spouse’s person as to render the spouse’s position intolerable. Thereby forcing the spouse to withdraw from the marriage.

  13. The husband or wife has abandoned the spouse. Or turned the spouse out of doors for no just cause. And has refused or neglected to provide for the spouse while having the ability to so provide.

  14. For a continuous period of two (2) or more years which commenced prior to or after April 18, 1985, both parties have lived in separate residences, the parties have not cohabitated as man and wife during such period, and there are no minor children of the parties

In addition, your grounds for divorce may be irreconcilable differences, but you can only get an ID divorce in Tennessee if you file a Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA) and, if you have kids, an agreed parenting plan— that is, you must have a full agreed divorce for it to be granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences. There is one other ground for divorce that is “no-fault,” and that is number 14 above- you’ve been living separately for at least two years and don’t have minor children. Without that separation, and without a full agreement, it has to be somebody’s “fault,” using one of the other grounds provided by the statute.

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