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Does a fault-based divorce require more evidence?

Tennessee’s approach to a no-fault divorce is termed irreconcilable differences. Yet state law also lists a number of fault-based grounds, such as impotence, adultery, abandonment, cruel and inhuman treatment, and other grounds.

Is the distinction between a divorce on fault or no-fault grounds significant? As a law firm that has helped many clients through both amicable and contentious divorces, the ground(s) stated in the divorce filing can make an impact.

For starters, a fault-based divorce requires the court to hear evidence in support of the alleged ground before granting the divorce. That burden of proof does not apply in a no-fault divorce citing irreconcilable differences.

Going the no-fault approach may also create an environment more favorable to producing settlement agreements. The process used to reach agreement on issues such as property division, debts, child custody, and/or support is not strictly specified. Whether parties informally met with their attorneys, requested a mediator or enlisted a variety of collaborative law techniques, the end product generally must be a written settlement agreement.

After the parties’ agreements on the material divorce terms have been reduced to writing, the court will review the proposed settlement. That process generally includes a hearing where the judge may ask certain questions of each party. The purpose of that hearing is for the court to ensure that the negotiation process was fair. Typical safeguards generally include whether each party understands the proposed agreement and whether the terms blatantly or unduly take advantage of another party.