Does Adultery Impact Divorce in Tennessee?

Finding out your spouse has been untrue to you can be devastating. You may try rebuilding the relationship, but often, after finding out adultery was committed, it’s hard to regain that trust. In Tennessee, adultery is one of the specific legal grounds for a fault divorce.

Remember, adultery is not against the law. But it can impact grounds for divorce.

What can be done if your spouse has committed adultery? 

Tennessee defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse with a person other than your spouse. You don’t have to prove sexual activity occurred, you just have to provide evidence of the infidelity committed, through the use of circumstantial evidence, such as illustrating that your spouse had both the inclination and opportunity to be unfaithful.

To prove adultery, the burden of proof is on the spouse seeking to file divorce due to the other spouse’s unfaithfulness. If you cannot get your spouse to admit to the affair, commonly accepted forms of evidence include, proving inappropriate relationships through credit card statements, bank statements, and cell phone records.

If successful, the court may determine that your spouse is not entitled to alimony rights. You must also consider who is the main financial contributor to the relationship. If it is the spouse who had an affair, it will not change his or her obligation to pay alimony. 

There are exceptions, however. 

Sometimes forgiveness is possible. If your spouse commits adultery, but you had given him or her permission or forgave your spouse and continued to live with him or her after the infidelity occurred, adultery will not stop your spouse from receiving alimony. 

Marital Assets and Child Custody

Typically, adultery only impacts alimony in Tennessee divorces. However, if the spouse who cheated used the couples shared funds for trips or gifts in the affair, and there is proof of this, the court may decide to award the spouse who did not commit adultery more of the marital property. 

Similarly, child support and custody will not be impacted unless the child was abandoned by the parent while the affair occurred.  The court will also consider the best interests of the child. Because adultery is considered bad judgment, the court may feel the parent is unfit to have custody of the child. Also, a parent who moves in with a significant other before the divorce decree is finalized can potentially damage his or her custody case.

Has your spouse been untrue to you and you want to stop them from receiving alimony? Contact a family law firm with experience with difficult divorce cases. 

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MHPS helps divorcing couples through the process and after when necessary. Contact us for experienced legal advice during this difficult time.

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