Can Lying About Your Age Affect Your Divorce in Tennessee?

by Beverly Bird

Lying about facts can affect your divorce in any state, such as if you deny that you own certain assets. Lying about your age is not a pivotal factor that would generally affect issues such as property distribution or child custody in Tennessee. However, it might affect your grounds for divorce, and it could offer your spouse the option of filing for annulment instead. Under some circumstances, it could affect a claim for alimony.

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Divorce Grounds

Tennessee recognizes a wide and creative assortment of divorce grounds, but lying about your age isn't one of them. However, there is a grounds that relates to cruel and inhuman treatment or "inappropriate marital conduct." If lying about your age caused your spouse considerable emotional suffering when he learned the truth, it's possible that this could substantiate grounds for divorce. Technically, Tennessee divorce judges are not supposed to consider marital misconduct when dividing property in a divorce. However, this doesn't guarantee that it wouldn’t influence a judge's opinion.

Underage Spouses

You must be at least 16 to marry in Tennessee unless you have court approval. However, if you're younger than 18, the court will notify your parents that you requested a marriage license, and you'll need parental consent. If you didn't meet these minimum age requirements and you managed to marry anyway by lying about your age, this is grounds for annulment, at least until you reach your eighteenth birthday. After this point, annulment depends on the specific circumstances of your marriage.

Annulment Due to Fraud

Lying about your age is also fraud, so it's grounds for annulment in Tennessee, even if you're not underage. For example, your spouse might not have married you had he known your true age. He may have believed you're close to being able to access a trust or retirement account, when in fact you're years away, which might adversely affect your marital finances. However, if your spouse continued to live with you after he learned the truth, this could void fraud as grounds for annulment.

Effect of Annulment

Annulment erases your marriage as though it never happened. In Tennessee, this means you are not eligible for alimony. Therefore, if a lie about your age gives your spouse grounds to annul your marriage rather than divorce you, it can conceivably have an economic impact on the end of your marriage.

Alimony Factors

Tennessee's statutes specifically allow judges to consider marital fault when deciding whether to award alimony. Therefore, even if your spouse files for divorce rather than annulment, your lie could still affect your ability to receive financial support post-divorce. The truth about your age could also affect your divorce if you're the spouse who might have to pay alimony. If you're nearing retirement, this could affect your income. The Tennessee Supreme Court decided in 2011 that a spouse's ability to pay is a crucial factor in determining alimony, so your true age could come as quite a negative surprise to your spouse.