Deciding to end a marriage is not usually a decision that is made easily nor spontaneously. On the contrary, most people who ultimate file for divorce only do so after a considerable amount of painful introspection and contemplation. Sometimes, both spouses agree that the marriage cannot be saved; however, it is not uncommon for the spouses to disagree that divorce is inevitable. If you have decided that you wish to move forward with a divorce, but your spouse doesn’t agree, you may wonder where that leaves you. A Tennessee divorce attorney answers the question “Can my spouse prevent me from getting a divorce?”
“I Won’t Give You a Divorce!”
Has your spouse told you this – or something similar—when you broached the subject of divorce? If so, you are hardly alone. It is a fairly common reaction when one spouse doesn’t want to end the marriage and is faced with the fact that the other spouse does. Sometimes it is simply a knee jerk reaction, said out of anger, desperation, or fear. Other times, a spouse really means what he/she says, in the sense that he/she actually intends to try and prevent the divorce. The question then becomes whether it is possible to prevent a divorce. The simple answer is that it is not possible; however, it is a little more complicated than that.
It Was Once Possible to Prevent a Divorce
If it isn’t possible to prevent your spouse from obtaining a divorce, why would someone think they can? One reason is that at one point it was possible for a spouse, in most states, to prevent, or at least seriously impede, a divorce. Divorce is governed by state law, meaning there will be differences in law and procedures from one state to the next. In most states, however, it was historically impossible for a woman to divorce her husband unless the husband agreed to the divorce. Even more recently, many states required the Petitioner (the spouse who filed the divorce) to allege, and ultimately prove, fault grounds on which the divorce could be granted. In other words, the Petitioner had to prove wrongdoing on the part of the Respondent (the other spouse) or the court would not grant a divorce. This often made it very difficult for someone to get divorced if the other spouse was determined to prevent the divorce.
Your Spouse Does Not Have to Agree to a Divorce
While there were once some potentially significant impediments to divorce, in the 21st century those impediments have been removed. Today, most states offer a “no-fault” option that allows the Petitioner to simply claim that the marriage no longer works. If you elect to file using the no-fault grounds, you do not have to prove anything other than that the marriage no longer works. In theory, the Respondent can disagree that the marriage no longer works; however, judges are not inclined to force a Petitioner to remain in a marriage. Some states do continue to offer the option to file for divorce using one of the traditional fault grounds. Tennessee is one of those states. In fact, along with the uncontested “irreconcilable differences” option, Tennessee allows you to file a contested divorce using any of the following grounds:
- Habitual drunkenness or abuse of narcotic drugs;
- Living apart for two years with no minor children;
- Inappropriate marital conduct;
- Willful or malicious desertion for one full year without a reasonable cause;
- Conviction of a felony;
- Pregnancy of the wife by another before the marriage without the husband’s knowledge;
- Refusal to move to Tennessee with your spouse and living apart for two years;
- Malicious attempt upon the life of another;
- Lack of reconciliation for two years after the entry of a decree of separate maintenance;
- Impotency and sterility;
- Bigamy; and
- Abandonment or refusal or neglecting to provide for spouse although able to do so
If you choose to file using one of the fault grounds, you will be required to prove the allegations of wrongdoing during the course of the divorce proceedings.
Contact a Tennessee Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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