Divorce Law for Domestic Violence in Tennessee

By Heather Frances J.D.

Divorce is rarely easy, but victims of domestic violence face an especially difficult process since the victim must navigate the divorce process while trying to keep herself safe. Tennessee laws can help the divorcing spouse protect herself; she may obtain a protective order against her abusive spouse and an abuser's violence can impact certain areas of the divorce.


Tennessee offers many grounds, or reasons, upon which a court can base a couple’s divorce, including both fault and no-fault grounds. No-fault grounds, such as irreconcilable differences between the spouses, require little proof. Fault grounds require the filing spouse to prove that the ground exists, and Tennessee has no grounds that specifically relate to domestic violence. However, there are grounds that may be appropriate in a domestic violence case, depending on the circumstances. For example, one of Tennessee’s grounds is that one spouse has subjected the other to such cruel and inhuman treatment that cohabitation is unsafe.

Temporary Protective Orders

A Tennessee court can issue a temporary protective order before or after a spouse files for divorce. A judge can issue a temporary order for domestic violence without the abusive spouse being present for the hearing, but temporary orders are effective for only 15 days, or until the court holds a full hearing. A spouse who files for divorce can ask the court for a temporary protective order at the time she files for divorce.

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

Permanent Protective Order

Abused spouses can also ask for a permanent protective order, called an extended protection order. This type of order requires a full hearing before a judge. These orders can last up to one year and can be extended if the protected spouse requests an extension before the original order expires. Protective orders can prohibit the abuser from being within a certain distance of the protected spouse and contacting the protected spouse.

Child Custody

A history of domestic violence may affect the court’s child custody determinations. Since Tennessee courts are primarily concerned with the best interests of the child when awarding custody, the court may consider an abuser's history of domestic violence as a significant factor when awarding custody, especially if the violence was against the children. The court may instead award supervised visitation, when an abuser's visitation with his child takes place under the supervision of another adult.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
California Law on Harassment While Filing for Divorce


Related articles

Help for Abused Mothers to Get Divorced in Arizona

Domestic violence can create urgency in the divorce process. In Arizona, it is crucial for victim mothers to seek help from the court and other agencies to ensure that the abuse stops. To that end, the law allows a mother to request temporary and permanent court orders of protection to protect both the mother and children from abuse, and a judge is required to consider domestic violence as a factor against awarding custody to an abusive husband.

Requirements for Filing for Pendente Lite Relief in Maryland Divorce Law

Divorces can drag on for several months or more, particularly if the spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce. Since the court doesn’t issue a divorce decree until the end of the divorce process, Maryland allows its courts to enter temporary orders, called pendente lite, after the divorce is filed but before it is finalized. However, courts do not automatically grant pendente lite relief, so the spouse who wants these temporary orders must make a special request to the court.

What Is an Ex Parte Custody Order?

Hearing both sides of a custody dispute is an important part of ensuring that the court makes an informed decision regarding your child. However, in some cases, threats to the child's well-being create an urgency requiring a judge to act without the participation of your spouse. In these limited circumstances, a court may act based on your testimony alone and issue what are known as temporary "ex parte" orders. States vary on the process for obtaining these orders as well as how long they remain in effect before a full hearing must be held.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Is a Permanent Injuction in a Divorce?

Injunctions often serve an important role during and after the divorce process, particularly in cases of domestic ...

Can One Spouse Kick Another out of the House in a Divorce in Illinois?

Divorce forces spouses to divide their property. They may agree on how to divide smaller assets like furniture and ...

Proving Harassment in a Divorce

Divorce isn't pleasant under the best of circumstances. However, when you are being harassed by your soon-to-be ...

The Effect of an Order of Protection on Divorce Proceedings in Arizona

In Arizona, an order of protection offers protection from family members, including spouses, who have threatened or ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED