In TN, Adultery Can Be Grounds for Divorce
All 50 states allow you to file for no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences and/or separation. This means that you do not have to prove misconduct on the part of your spouse to end your marriage. However, 33 states - including Tennessee - also give you the option to file fault-based divorce. Grounds for fault-based divorce in Tennessee include adultery, among others.
While cheating on a spouse is generally considered to be morally wrong, it can also have effects legally. If you want to file for divorce and believe your spouse committed adultery, you should discuss your options for no-fault or fault grounds with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney right away.
Proving Adultery in a Divorce
When you file for divorce based on adultery, you will have to sufficiently prove the adultery occurred. In some cases, spouses can agree in writing to fault-based grounds. When a spouse admits to adultery upfront, it can save time, money, and intimate details of their life being exposed in open court. However, in many cases, the cheating spouse will refuse to admit such misconduct.
If you do not have an agreement from the start, you will need to prove the adultery to the court by a preponderance of the evidence. This means you will need to present evidence that indicates it is more likely than not that the adultery occurred. This can be a difficult task in some situations, especially because Tennessee law often prohibits you from photographing others when they are not in a public place (when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy). You also cannot track someone else with a GPS device without their knowledge.
However, there are many other types of evidence that can demonstrate adultery, such as:
- Witness statements from friends and family who know about the affair
- Texts, emails, or other communications to which you have lawful access
- Photos or activity on social media profiles that you can access
- Photos of your spouse in public
- Charges on credit cards used for hotels, secret vacations, jewelry, restaurants, and more
While you likely cannot definitively prove that sexual intercourse occurred (unless you or someone else walked in on the act), there are other types of circumstantial evidence that can indicate that your spouse had the opportunity and inclination to be unfaithful. Keep in mind that proving adultery in court often involves highly personal information being exposed, especially if one spouse contests the grounds for divorce.
How Adultery Affects Other Divorce Issues
Once adultery is proven as part of a divorce, it can affect other issues in the case. Such issues include:
- Property division
While you might get a greater financial award due to adultery, courts will usually not consider adultery when making child custody determinations unless the misconduct creates an unhealthy environment for a child.