What are the grounds for divorce?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

If someone wants to get a divorce in Tennessee, they have to prove to the court a reason why they should be granted a divorce.

What are the options of “grounds” you can show to the court to get it to grant you a divorce?

Tennessee Code Annotated 36-4-101 lists 15 options that, if proven, can allow you to become divorced.  I will tell you, some of them are pretty out there and do not get brought up any more.  Most people get divorced on the grounds of “inappropriate marital conduct,” because it is the catch-all reason for getting divorced (it can mean anything, including not taking out the trash one time), or “irreconcilable differences” which is the grounds used to divorce people when they come to an agreement prior to an actual trial.

Without further ado, here is the list of grounds on which you can get divorced in Tennessee:

  1. Either party at the time of the marriage was/is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation.
  2. Either party has gotten married a second time while still married to someone else.
  3. Either party has committed adultery.
  4. Desertion or abandonment by a party without cause for one whole year.
  5. Being convicted of a crime that renders a party infamous.
  6. Being convicted of a felony and sentenced to serve time in a penitentiary.
  7. Either party has attempted to kill the other party.
  8. Refusal by either party without cause to move to Tennessee with their spouse and being absent from Tennessee for 2 years.
  9. The woman was pregnant at the time of the marriage by another man without the knowledge of the husband.
  10. Either party is habitual drunkness or abuse of narcotics by either party and the habit was contracted after the marriage.
  11. Inappropriate marital conduct.
  12. Offering indignities to a spouse and thereby causing a spouse to withdraw.
  13. One spouse has abandoned or turned the other spouse “out of doors,” and has refused to provide for the spouse while being able to do so.
  14. Irreconcilable differences.
  15. For a continuous period of two years or more, the parties have failed to cohabit, and there are no minor children.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.


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