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Does it matter why you want a divorce?

If you are thinking about asking your spouse for a divorce, you probably have spent a considerable amount of time weighting the pros and cons of that choice. If you decide this is your best way forward, you probably have a reason for your decision.

Personal reasons for divorce can matter to you and to your spouse. However, not all personal reasons are legally valid. This means that you may need to select a legally valid reason, called a ground, before a court will consider granting you a divorce.

Tennessee courts recognize 15 grounds for divorce. They include:

  • Impotency: A spouse was naturally impotent at the time of the marriage
  • Bigamy: A spouse knowingly entered a second marriage
  • Adultery: One spouse cheated on the other spouse
  • Desertion: One spouse chose to desert the other spouse for at least a year without a reasonable cause
  • Attempted murder: One spouse has attempted to kill the other spouse
  • Conviction of a felony: A spouse was convicted of a felony offense and sentenced to jail
  • Refusal to move to Tennessee: One spouse refused to move from another state to Tennessee with his or her spouse and remained absent for at least two years
  • Pregnancy by another: The wife was pregnant with another person’s child at the time of the marriage without the husband’s knowledge
  • Habitual drunkenness or abuse of drugs: A spouse developed a habit of alcohol or drug abuse after the marriage
  • Inappropriate marital conduct: One spouse treats the other spouse so cruelly that it is unsafe for them to live together
  • Indignities: One spouse offered such indignities to the other spouse that the other spouse’s position became intolerable
  • Abandonment: One spouse abandoned the other spouse or refused to provide for his or her spouse despite having the ability to do so
  • Irreconcilable differences: The spouses have differences that cannot be resolved
  • Living apart: Spouses who do not have minor children have lived in separate residences for at least two years

Some grounds for divorce are fault-based. This means that you would be blaming the need for divorce on your spouse. Other grounds are no-fault grounds, which do not blame either spouse.

Although you have probably already taken the time to determine your personal reason for divorce, it can be extremely valuable to also take the time to carefully select your ground for divorce. The best ground will depend on your situation and goals. The ground that you select can impact a variety of divorce outcomes.

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