May 11

Inappropriate Marital Conduct and Divorce in Tennessee

Inappropriate marital conduct is the most common fault-based reason alleged for divorce in Tennessee.

A trial court in Tennessee can find inappropriate marital conduct whenever there is evidence of continued misconduct by one or both spouses that makes continued cohabitation unacceptable. That misconduct is generally thought of as anything that causes pain, anguish or distress to the other party.  If the spouse who is accused of committing the conduct can defend him or herself against the accusation by showing the conduct was justified, this can effectively neutralize a claim of inappropriate marital conduct.

Conduct considered to be inappropriate in Tennessee for a divorce to be granted is varied.

The range of marital conduct considered “inappropriate” in Tennessee is wide; and includes:

  • Humiliating treatment of a spouse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Wasting of the marital estate
  • A spouse being convicted of a felony

If a court grants a divorce based on inappropriate marital conduct, what does that mean?

The court can consider the fault of a party when awarding alimony. The court is not supposed to award alimony or withhold alimony in an effort to punish a spouse who has committed inappropriate marital conduct. 

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