What Are Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee?


In Tennessee, there are two kinds of divorce: fault or no-fault. Keep reading to learn about each type as well as what grounds for divorce Tennessee permits. If you are thinking about a divorce, call an experienced Shelby County divorce lawyer today and we’ll use all three generations of our experience to get you the best outcome we can.

No-Fault Divorce in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a no-fault divorce requires the couple to agree on every part of the divorce. This means that not only does the couple have to agree that the marriage should end because of an abundance of differences, but also on any other decision involved in the divorce process, like division of marital property or child custody. If the court needs to step in for any reason, then it will be considered a fault divorce.

Fault Divorce in Tennessee: 15 Grounds

For a fault divorce, one party has to prove that there exist legal grounds for divorce. In Tennessee, these are:

Inability to have children

Permanent impotence can be a valid fault ground if it was present before the couple married.


Tennessee does not permit more than one marriage at the same time, so bigamy can be grounds for divorce.

Adultery or pregnancy

Adultery can be a valid ground for divorce in Tennessee, though the spouse using it as such must prove adultery happened.


Similarly, a spouse becoming pregnant by someone not their spouse can be grounds for divorce. The accusing spouse can only use this if the couple did not have premarital sex.

Desertion / Abandonment / Separation

Leaving a spouse for at least one year—intentionally, maliciously, and without reasonable cause—may be a valid ground for divorce, as may be throwing the spouse out of the marital home and refusing to support them.

Separation lasting two years may be grounds for divorce if there are no minor children.

Infamous crime

In Tennessee, crimes that are considered to make someone infamous (and therefore divorce-able under the law) include: breaking and entering, incest, forgery, bribery, rape, or horse stealing.

Felonious crime and detainment

A spouse may file for divorce if the other spouse was convicted of a felony and sent to prison.

Attempted spousal murder

Attempted murder of a spouse is grounds for divorce.

Unwilling to move to Tennessee

If one spouse has moved to Tennessee and the other spouse refuses to follow without any valid reason, that may be grounds for divorce. If the other spouse has refused to follow for up to two years, that may also be grounds for divorce even if the couple has minor children.

Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse

It is not enough for one spouse to frequently take drugs or alcohol. Only habitual use of these substances is sufficient to rise to be grounds for divorce.

Indignities suffered / Cruel or inhuman treatment

Under Tennessee divorce law, indignities refer to actions done by one spouse that undermine the other spouse’s sense of self-worth and value. On-going neglect, isolation, hurtful and abusive language, signs of settled hatred, and attempts to cause the spouse physical pain all may be grounds for divorce.

Actions do not need to be physically abusive to qualify as cruel or inhuman treatment. Intentional, continuous conduct that causes another spouse senseless suffering may also be grounds for divorce.