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Franklin Divorce Attorney > Blog > Divorce > How Can Adultery Affect my Divorce in Tennessee?

How Can Adultery Affect my Divorce in Tennessee?


There is a reason that so many country songs that are at the top of the charts are about cheating. From the dawn of mankind, unfaithfulness has plagued those in the pursuit of true love, and happily ever after. Unfortunately, many marriages disintegrate due to unfaithfulness on the part of one of the partners. No divorce is exactly alike, just as no two couples are exactly alike. Sometimes til death do us part was just never going to pan out, for either party.

However, if a spouse feels that their marriage was otherwise solid, and it is the sole actions of their spouse that have destroyed their marital relationship, that person might be thinking – “how does my spouse’s infidelity affect our divorce?” Or, perhaps the question, “is adultery GROUNDS for the divorce?”

Like anything in life, love, AND the law – unfortunately, easy answers are hard to come by, and most things are nuanced and complicated. However, expert and experienced divorce attorneys can evaluate your specific situation and advise you on how to proceed with your best foot forward.

Is Adultery a Ground for Divorce in Tennessee?

It may surprise some who have little experience with the law or criminal justice – but the laws that apply to you in your divorce will differ depending on what state you are seeking a divorce from. While every state in the nation is subject to certain “federal” laws that are created at the federal level, many items have been left up to the states, including divorce proceedings/law. What this means, is that each state has developed its own, different set of laws when it comes to divorce.

In Tennessee, you do need to state a “ground” of divorce. This is the stated reason that a divorce is being pursued or needs to be granted by the court. However, this is not as complicated as it might sound. In Tennessee, you do not need to state more of a “ground” for divorce than that you and your spouse simply have “irreconcilable differences.”

While you do not HAVE to state anything further than the above, Tennessee does provide petitioners with the option of pursuing an at-fault divorce, and one of the grounds for such a divorce is a claim of adultery.

Potential Effect of Adultery on Divorce

It is important to understand that a claim of adultery will not get a person into legal, criminal trouble. However, the claim might be considered by the court as a factor when it decides certain issues, such as child support and alimony.

You should never assume that the court WILL factor the cheating into their decision. It is particularly important to understand that Tennessee state law prohibits the court from awarding punitive alimony. What this means for the petitioner is that they cannot ask for more money from their spouse, or expect the court to grant them additional support, because one spouse committed adultery.

Where adultery could play a role includes scenarios where a judge takes into account the relative fault of each party in the divorce. It might be considered if you show that the cheating spouse used marital assets to pay for the adultery.

Ways that Adultery Might Factor In

There are three main ways that adultery may factor into a judge’s decision about your divorce. It should be noted, however, that just because your spouse cheated on you does not automatically mean you’ll be awarded more money or assets. You should never assume that a judge will weigh this in their decision-making, no matter how hurtful or destructive the actions of your spouse were to your relationship.

The most common way it can affect the outcome of your divorce is through alimony (spousal support). Alimony is never automatically awarded, even in cases of adultery. Additionally, state law prohibits punitive alimony, so you can’t simply ask for more money from your spouse because they betrayed you.

Adultery can, however, still play a role if the judge takes into account the “relative fault” of one partner over another. It may also be considered if you could show that your cheating spouse used marital funds to pay for their extramarital affair. A court could potentially take these details into consideration when deciding how to fairly divide the marital assets between the divorcing spouses.

Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers

In life, love, and divorce – the smallest details can prove pivotal to your road ahead. Trust the experienced Franklin divorce attorneys at Fort, Holloway & Rogers to help you navigate through your next best steps in your family law matter.




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