What is Considered Abandonment in Tennessee Divorce Cases?

By Cindy Chung

alone woman image by Igors Leonovs from Fotolia.com

In a marriage where one spouse has abandoned the other, the couple may be headed toward divorce. Under Tennessee domestic relations laws, an individual may be able to obtain a divorce based on abandonment.

Tennessee Divorce Grounds

According to the Nashville Bar Association, Tennessee domestic relations laws allow state residents to file for a fault-based divorce or a divorce based on irreconcilable differences. In a fault-based divorce, the petitioner can choose from one of the state's 15 fault grounds or the couple can admit to both being at fault.

Tennessee Code Provisions for Abandonment

The Tennessee Code Annotated lists the state's fault grounds for divorce in Section 36-4-101. Under subsection 4, a spouse can file for divorce due to abandonment, defined as the "willful or malicious desertion or absence of either party, without a reasonable cause" lasting for a period of at least one year. Additionally, under subsection 8, an individual may be able to obtain a divorce if she has lived in Tennessee for at least two years and her spouse refused to move to the state to join her.

Read More: Statute of Abandonment in Tennessee

Proof of Abandonment

According to the Ferrell Law Firm of Memphis, Tennessee, an individual can establish abandonment if he has been living without his spouse for at least one year due to his spouse's intentional choice to leave him. A spouse cannot establish abandonment if she decided to leave. In a divorce case, the petitioner will likely need to present evidence showing his efforts to locate or contact the absent spouse.