In order to begin your divorce case, you will need to file a petition for divorce (legal paperwork) with the court, asking for a divorce and stating your “grounds” or the reasons for ending your marriage.
Tennessee recognizes both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce.
What are the “No-Fault” Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee?
Tennessee allows couples to divorce based on the no-fault ground of “irreconcilable differences,” which is just fancy way of saying the couple can’t get along anymore, and there’s no chance for a reconciliation. With a no-fault divorce, neither spouse is required to allege any wrongdoing on the other’s part, or claim that the other spouse’s misconduct led to the break up.
In addition to irreconcilable differences, divorcing couples in Tennessee can base their divorce on the ground of separation. This requires a showing that:
- both spouses have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of two or more years
- the parties have not cohabited as man and wife during this two-year period, and
- the spouses have no minor children.
Find more detailed information about filing for divorce based on no-fault ground, see Irrenconcilable Differences in Tennessee.
What are the “Fault” Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee?
Alternatively, divorcing spouses can seek a fault-based divorce, which means that one spouse will allege that the other’s bad conduct led to the divorce. The fault grounds in Tennessee include, but are not limited to, the following:
- willful or malicious desertion for one whole year
- a felony conviction, with a sentence to confinement in the penitentiary
- attempted murder of the other spouse
- alcohol or drug abuse, and
- cruel and inhuman treatment.
For a complete list of the fault grounds in Tennessee, see T.C.A. § 36-4-101.
Is There a Waiting Period?
A petition for divorce on any ground must have been on file for 60 days before the divorce may be heard in court if the parties have no unmarried child under 18 years of age. It must have been on file at least 90 days before being heard if the parties have an unmarried child under 18 years of age. The 60-day or 90-day period begins to run on the date the divorce complaint or petition is filed.
If you have questions about the grounds for divorce in your case, you should contact an experienced family law attorney for help.