Q:

What is fault in alimony in Tennessee law?

A:

The fault means the wrongful action that led to the end of the marriage. Courts look at Tennessee Law to determine who was to blame for the failure of the marriage. Marital fault can include cheating, mental or physical abuse, or addiction to alcohol or drugs. The court will decide if both parties were responsible for the fault or if one spouse was the primary cause of the end of the marriage.

Q:

How does fault apply to an alimony claim in a Tennessee divorce?

A:

The court is going to look at fault as a factor when they consider awarding alimony. Generally the courts don’t worry about fault as much with short term marriages which is less than seven years. As far as longer term marriages, fault may or may not be heavily considered. With that being said, fault is not supposed to be disciplinary. Pretty much what that means is the court should not award alimony to a spouse just because of wrongdoing. Although, in reality, it depends on the judge, how severe the fault, and the connection of the wrong-doing and the divorce.

Q:

Can a cheating spouse get alimony in Tennessee law?

A:

Yes.

Q:

What are possible defenses against fault?

A:

Fault is a more broad statement than just adultery or cheating. In Tennessee law, there are three defenses to adultery as grounds for divorce: recrimination, condonation, and connivance.

When a defense is proven, the court may not find grounds for divorce or may lessen the effects of fault on the alimony determination. Recrimination involves proving the other spouse also committed adultery. Condonation involves proving that a spouse forgave the adultery by having marital relations after learning of the affair. Connivance involves actively assisting the spouse in the adulterous conduct, such as paying for the sexual relations or otherwise participating in a spouse’s prostitution. These defenses can involve a wide variety of circumstances.

Q:

What is condonation in Tennessee divorce law?

A:

Forgiveness. If the spouse that was faithful learns all of the details of the affair and chooses to take the cheating spouse back, then the faithful spouse will be considered to have forgiven the cheating spouse. One common exception would be if the faithful spouse learns about one affair but in reality the spouse has had multiple affairs. In this case, condonation may not apply.

Q:

What does adultery mean in Tennessee divorce law?

A:

The definition of adultery is cheating. Adultery is grounds for divorce and it can also be a factor for determining alimony. Courts won’t always require proof of actual sexual relations. Most of the time there will need to be more than just an emotional relationship. For example, if a couple is getting a divorce and the spouse went on vacation with a friend of the opposite sex and shared a hotel room, that may enough to prove adultery for two purposes: grounds for divorce and fault for alimony.