You and your spouse are no longer able to live together. You entered into this marriage with the hope that it would last “till death do you part.” Unfortunately, that is not the case, and the emotional upheaval is taxing. You know that it is time to make the decision and file for divorce. 

Filing a petition is the beginning of the divorce process. You or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least a year. In Tennessee, the court will ask for the reason or grounds for ending your marriage. The state recognizes both fault and no-fault divorces. 


The grounds for a fault-based divorce occur when a spouse alleges his or her partner engaged in bad conduct. Tennessee’s fault-based reasons include some, but not all of the following: 

  • Adultery by either person 
  • Desertion for one year 
  • A spouse with a felony conviction with imprisonment 
  • Attempted murder 
  • Alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment 

There are several other reasons for a fault-based divorce, such as bigamy and impotence. 


The usual no-fault reason for divorce is irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences mean that the couple cannot get along anymore and there is no chance for reconciliation. Neither spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, and there is no misconduct on either side. 

To claim irreconcilable differences as the grounds for the divorce, the court requires the couple to show that: 

  • They lived apart for at least two consecutive years. 
  • They did not live together as husband and wife for those two years. 
  • There are no minor children. 

If there are no children under the age of 18 in the marriage, the couple must wait 60 days before a hearing. Those who have children under the age of 18 must wait 90 days. The waiting period for the hearing starts after the filing of the petition for divorce.