Does an Affair Matter in a Divorce in Tennessee?

By Wayne Thomas

An affair can be devastating to a marriage. Tennessee allows you obtain a divorce from your spouse based solely on adultery. Understanding how an affair can affect the stages of the divorce process, as well as what defenses may be raised will help you better prepare for a divorce of this type in Tennessee.

Grounds for Divorce

Tennessee recognizes adultery as a ground for divorce. This means that a judge can dissolve a marriage based solely that the spouse cheated. However, the spouse filing for divorce must prove that the infidelity actually occurred, which requires more than allegations. Even if the spouse admits to infidelity, the court needs to hear the evidence before the court can grant the divorce.

Property Division

The fact that you can establish that your spouse was unfaithful does not mean, however, that his affair will affect property division. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will distribute the martial assets fairly, although not necessarily in a 50-50 distribution. The court looks at each party's needs and contributions to the marriage, but state law prevents a judge from taking into account marital fault, including adultery, in dividing property. If the unfaithful spouse used marital funds, for example, to support the affair, however, the court can use the amount wrongly appropriated to lesson that spouse’s share of the marital property.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Spousal Support

Although proving that an affair occurred may not affect property division, courts can consider infidelity when they determine spousal support -- also known as alimony. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that a spouse enjoys the same standard of living that she had during the marriage. The court looks at each spouse’s specific needs and each spouse’s ability to earn a living. If it can be proven to the court that the faithful spouse was so devastated by the affair that she is unable to work because of the affair, this might justify a higher spousal support award for her. It is important to understand, however, that the court will not use alimony to punish the unfaithful spouse for the affair.

A Spouse's Defenses

The fact that a spouse has had an affair does not automatically mean that the other spouse can use the affair as a basis for a divorce. Instead, Tennessee recognizes three defenses that the unfaithful spouse can raise in his defense. The first is recrimination, which means that if both spouses cheated, neither spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. The second is condonation, which means that the wronged spouse has forgiven his spouse for the affair and both parties have reconciled. Years later, if the once-wronged spouse files for divorce based on that affair, the court can dismiss the complaint. The final defense is connivance, which means that the faithful spouse played a role in encouraging the other spouse to cheat.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Does Cheating Affect Divorce in Pennsylvania?
 

References

Related articles

New York State Divorce Laws When a Spouse Has an Affair

Until 1967, adultery was the only grounds for divorce recognized by New York. The state’s code defines it as sexual intercourse between an individual and someone other than her spouse after their date of marriage, so an affair qualifies if the relationship was sexually consummated. However, the rest of New York’s laws pertaining to this divorce ground are not quite as simple.

Divorce Laws in Tennessee Regarding Willful Desertion

If your motivation for seeking a divorce in Tennessee is because your husband or wife deserts you, the state’s family laws allow you to file for divorce on those grounds. However, there are certain requirements and burdens of proof you must satisfy to do so. And regardless of your grounds for divorce, Tennessee has a number of procedural guidelines that apply to all divorces.

Adultery & Divorce Laws in California

Most people believe that cheating on your spouse is wrong, but whether or not it can get you in legal trouble depends on where you live. California’s divorce laws are forgiving of adultery. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a straying spouse will get off scot-free, however.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Law on Infidelity in Pennsylvania

Spousal infidelity, referred to as adultery, continues to be recognized as a basis for divorce in Pennsylvania. If your ...

Does a Spouse Stealing Money Qualify for a Divorce?

It may be time for a divorce if you catch your spouse stealing money, but a court cannot grant your divorce unless you ...

What If You Don't Admit to Adultery in a Divorce Case?

Deciding whether to admit to adultery during divorce proceedings is a personal decision, and one that ultimately, will ...

How Long for an Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana If a Spouse Committed Adultery?

In Louisiana, a divorce is uncontested when both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, such as custody, spousal ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED