Adultery: Grounds for Divorce or Not?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

Often when people speak to me about filing for divorce, they speak about how they want to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Under Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-4-101, adultery is a basis for terminating a marriage.

However, sometimes parties who are contemplating divorce will attempt to reconcile after the adultery was uncovered. I will ask these people if they have been intimate with their spouse after they learned about the adultery. If the answer is yes, then these people cannot seek a divorce on the basis of adultery.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-4-112 states:

If the cause assigned for the divorce is adultery, it is a good defense and perpetual bar to the same if the defendant alleges and proves that:

  1. The complainant has been guilty of like act or crime;
  2. The complainant has admitted the defendant into conjugal society and embraces after knowledge of the criminal act;
  3. The complainant, if the husband, allowed the wife’s prostitutions and received hire for them; or
  4. The husband exposed the wife to lewd company, whereby the wife became ensnared to the act or crime of adultery.

So, you cannot seek a divorce on the grounds of adultery if you have been intimate with your spouse after learning of their adultery.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.