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Divorce in the State of Tennessee and COVID-19

There is no question that the COVID-19 epidemic has led to unprecedented stress among married couples.  Reasons for divorce during this crisis can include:

  1. Quarantining together leading to the uncovering of previously unresolved relationship issues.  
  2. Conflicts over whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate.
  3. Unequal distribution of household responsibilities including, but not limited to, childcare and housework.
  4. Money problems caused by lack of employment during the pandemic.

All states make allowances for a no-fault divorce. However, other states, such as Tennessee, allow their citizens to seek a fault-based divorce, where one spouse alleges that the other’s unacceptable conduct led to the effective end of the marital relationship.

The following are reasons for a fault-based divorce in Tennessee that the pandemic might cause.  

  1. Desertion: If one spouse willfully or maliciously deserts the other spouse without a reasonable cause, they can request this ground for divorce. Be prepared to provide evidence showing 1) the amount of time desertion occurred 2) the complete cutoff of communication.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, desertion appears to be occurring quite frequently when the stresses become overwhelming and spouses see no other way out of a seemingly untenable situation.  
  1. Attempted Murder of the Other Spouse: The attempted murder must be malicious and deliberate for it to be grounds for a divorce, for example, poisoning the other spouse.  While extreme, COVID-19 is creating the perfect storm for murder or attempted murder within marriage to occur.  With people being forced to spend extended time together in close quarters, tempers can run high, and previously unprecedented violent behavior can occur.  
  1. Refusal to move: Courts will allow a divorce to a spouse residing in Tennessee if the other spouse intentionally refuses to move to the state for two years. The spouse asking for the divorce must also show that they did not cohabitate as spouses for two years. The spouse must also show that the couple does not have minor children together.  This type of divorce occurs more frequently during the COVID-19 epidemic because individuals have to take jobs within other states.  Some spouses cannot or will not move with their spouses, leading to the breakdown of marital relationships.
  1.  Cruel and inhuman treatment: This category includes a wide range of conduct and mistreatment. It can be verbal and physical assaults, domestic violence, failure to provide a suitable living condition, and more.  Spouses during the COVID-19 pandemic often find themselves literally at each other’s throats, unwilling or unable to deal with one another any further.  This can lead to unusual behavior and ultimately the breakdown of the marital relationship.
  1. Alcohol or drug abuse: Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs of one spouse that the other remained unaware of before getting married. With so many people out of work or stuck at home with children, alcohol and drug abuse is running rampant in American homes.  As a result, many marriages are suffering and ultimately disintegrating.
  1. Indignities: For a divorce to be granted on indignities, one must provide evidence that one’s spouse has consistently acted with rudeness, hate, abuse, and neglect to render one’s married life untenable.  Many couples, finding themselves together for seemingly endless periods of time because of the COVID-19 epidemic, are often faced with personality traits of their spouse that they previously overlooked.  This can lead to unkindness and indignities occurring between spouses, resulting in marriages ending.
  1. Abandonment occurs when one spouse has abandoned the other out of their home and refuses to support the ousted spouse.  Additionally, when faced with the various spousal issues detailed above, many spouses are also often simply leaving and starting life over elsewhere.  In both cases, divorce is a viable alternative.  

If your marriage is facing unprecedented issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and you have questions regarding filing for divorce, contact Logan-Thompson, P.C at 423-476-2251 or find their website online at 

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