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Could Couples Lose the Option to File a No-Fault Divorce in Tennessee?


No-fault divorce is a great option for many couples. Sometimes a marriage just does not work out. Or, Even if one spouse is more “at-fault” and the couple would qualify for divorce under a separate ground, a couple might still file a no-fault divorce just to retain privacy.

However, a more conservative political trend in certain states could have potential, long-term consequences for Tennessee as well. As some states shift toward more conservative policies, some local legislators are attempting to reduce or eliminate the concept of no-fault divorces.

But what would eliminating no-fault divorce mean for Tennessee couples? To answer this question, one must understand the basics behind the function of the no-fault divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee

At the most basic level, a “ground” for divorce, simply means that a couple has a reason to get divorced. Because Tennessee currently recognizes no-fault divorces, a much-utilized ground for divorce is no-fault, “irreconcilable differences.”

In Tennessee, the fault-grounds for divorce include:

  • Inability to procreate / impotency
  • One of the spouses is practicing bigamy
  • One or both of the spouses engaged in adultery
  • One or both of the spouses deserted the other for two years or more
  • One of the spouse’s was convicted of a crime that made the party infamous
  • One party was convicted of a felony and sentenced to penitentiary confinement
  • Cruel or inhuman treatment, inappropriate marital conduct
  • Deliberate or malicious attempted murder of the other spouse
  • Habitual drug abuse or drunkenness
  • At the time of the marriage, the woman was pregnant by another man and the husband was not aware
  • One spouse has unreasonably refused to come to the state, and willfully absent from the Tennessee-residing spouse for at least two years
  • Either party has caused such indignity to the other spouse’s person as to render the spouse’s position intolerable
  • One spouse has kicked out the other for no just cause, and refused or neglected to provide for that spouse, even though they have the ability to do so.
  • For a continuous period of two or more years (After April 18, 1985) both spouses have lived separately in separate residences. They have not cohabitated as man and wife during the timeframe, and the spouses have no minor children.

What is the Status of No-Fault Divorce in Tennessee

As of the writing of this article, there does not appear to be any pending Tennessee legislation that would eliminate a couple’s ability to pursue a no-fault divorce in Tennessee. However, there have been attempts by politicians and/or party operatives in several states – including Texas, Louisiana, and Nebraska – to curb, or even out-right ban, no-fault divorces.

Divorce is governed by the laws of the state. Just like all state laws, divorce law is subject to potential legislative change. While that change is not guaranteed, it is possible. The elimination of no-fault divorce would certainly have a direct impact on many, many couples seeking a divorce. It is always wise to ensure you continue to keep a pulse on legislative developments in your area.

Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers

If you have any questions or are looking for help in your own divorce case, contact the experienced team of Franklin divorce attorneys at Fort, Holloway & Rogers.


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