Affairs can destroy a marriage, and when it comes to divorce, they can really complicate the matter. In the state of Tennessee, adultery can be grounds for a divorce in and of itself. If you and/or your spouse are considering a divorce and an affair is a contributing factor, it's imperative to understand how adultery can affect and impact the process.
Divorce on the Grounds of Infidelity
As previously mentioned, Tennessee recognizes adultery as a sole grounds for divorce, meaning that a judge can officially end a marriage if a spouse is able to prove that adultery took place. It's important to know, however, that allegations are not enough; one must definitively prove that the affair occurred.
Division of Property
In most cases, even if an affair is proven, it will not affect the division of the property. Tennessee is a state that follows the rules of equitable distribution, which means that all marital assets are divided fairly. The judge will consider the needs of each spouse and the contributions he or she made to the marriage. Depending on the state, however, usually one cannot factor adultery into the division of property.
The one exception is if it is proven that one spouse used joint funds in order to support the adultery. In cases like these, the court may subtract this amount from the portion allotted to the partner in question.
While property division is typically not impacted by adultery, the same cannot be said for alimony, or spousal support. The purpose of alimony is to ensure that the spouses are able to maintain their lifestyle after the divorce is finalized. Like property division, the court will consider the needs of the spouses and their ability to hold a job and earn their living.
While alimony is never used as a means to punish a spouse, it is possible that, in cases where it is determined that the offended spouse was so devastated as to make working harder or impossible, the judge may choose to increase the required alimony.
Defense After Adultery
While an affair can complicate the divorce process, it is not necessarily true that adultery will automatically lead the judge to dissolve the marriage. There are three possible defenses that a Tennessee resident can use in order to mitigate the damages following adultery. This includes:
- Recrimination: in cases where both spouses had an affair, neither can use this as grounds for divorce.
- Connivance: adultery cannot be used as grounds for divorce if the "wronged" spouse took part in encouraging the affair.
- Condonation: reconciliation in which the wronged spouse forgives and reconciles with the unfaithful partner; if the wronged spouse claims adultery later on, the court can dismiss it.