Are There Benefits To Filing An At-Fault Divorce?
Once one or both spouses in a relationship have come to the decision to terminate their marriage, the next step that must be taken is for one of the spouses to file for divorce, thereby initiating the required legal process nearly every couple must go through if they wish to dissolve their marriage.
Part of filing for divorce includes determining whether you will submit to the court that you are pursuing a no-fault, or a fault, divorce. In the midst of the emotional turmoil that often comes hand in hand with dissolving a marriage, it may be difficult to decide which option is right for you. So – are there benefits to filing for an at-fault divorce?
Grounds for Divorce
Anyone familiar with European history knows and understands the history of divorce. (King Henry the VIII, anyone?) Traditionally, divorce was “frowned upon” to say the very least. Quite often a spouse had to provide evidence that the other spouse did something so wrong that the other spouse’s request for a divorce was seen as valid by the court.
Today, ideas on marriage have certainly changed. The numbers in the U.S. hover around fifty percent of first marriages ending in divorce, with second marriage divorce rates even higher than that.
These changes in attitudes to divorce have also been reflected in the legal requirements for obtaining a divorce. Many states now offer the option for couples to file “no-fault” divorces (indeed, many states provide “no-fault” as the ONLY option.) Tennessee law provides that couples may file either a no-fault divorce, or file using any of these as the “fault grounds,” or “reasons,” behind filing for divorce.
- Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotics
- “Inappropriate” marital conduct
- Willful/ malicious desertion for at least one year without reasonable cause
- A felony conviction
- Living apart for two years with no minor children
- Pregnancy by another man before the marriage without the husband’s knowledge.
- Malicious attempt upon the life of another
- Lack of reconciliation for two years after the entry of a decree of separate maintenance
- Impotence and/or sterility
- Refusal to move to Tennessee and living apart for two or more years
- Abandonment or neglecting to provide for a spouse even though the spouse is able to do so
If you choose to pursue a divorce based on fault you need to anticipate that you will have to provide proof of the asserted ground. If you file a no-fault divorce, no evidence is required to be provided to the court.
Are There Benefits to Filing an At-Fault Divorce?
You will have to provide evidence of a fault-grounds divorce, while you will not have to provide such evidence if you go the “no fault” route. However, for certain people in certain circumstances pursuing the at-fault option may be worth the hassle.
In Tennessee, bad-actions on the part of one spouse can impact the final order regarding the division of assets, spousal support, and parenting time.
There are also disadvantages to pursuing a fault-based divorce. These kinds of divorce actions are almost invariably more contentious than divorce actions that do not allege fault. Filers should anticipate that filing an at-fault divorce action will cause the divorce to stretch on for a longer period of time. The alleged wrongdoer may go into defensive mode and may also take the time to try to refute any evidence you submit to the court. A contentious divorce will nearly always take significantly more time and money to fully process.
Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers
If you are weighing your options in a future divorce filing, contact one of the esteemed Franklin divorce lawyers at Fort, Holloway Rogers. Our experienced team can help you determine how to move forward.