By Jedidiah McKeehan

With the 10th highest divorce rate in the United States (13 percent), chances are you or someone you know will go through the process of obtaining a divorce. And despite what you’ve seen on television or in the movies (“War of the Roses” comes to mind), getting a divorce in Tennessee can be a simple process, as long as everyone is in agreement.

First, let’s begin with the two grounds of divorce in Tennessee. Tennessee offers both fault and no-fault divorces.

A no-fault ground for divorce means the couple agree to every statement in the petition and are asking the court to approve it. The couple typically state there are “irreconcilable differences” within the marriage. In other words, the divorce is uncontested and no single party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

A fault ground for divorce is used when the couple cannot agree on things and need to argue the terms and conditions in court. This can include disagreements over property and asset division, custody arrangements, spousal and/or child support, just to name a few.

The most common reason given for a fault divorce is “inappropriate marital conduct,” which is a “catch all” phrase that could include anything, even something as simple as not taking out the trash. People often get worked up over the term because they feel that they are being accused of or blamed for something, but again, it is a generic phrase used in this situation. It literally could mean anything and allows you to argue in front of a court.

I am often asked if you need to hire an attorney for a divorce, even for a no-fault divorce. Technically, you don’t have to have an attorney to file for and secure a divorce, but it is highly recommended. A divorce is a lawsuit and things can quickly get serious if there is not someone there to watch your back and give you advice about what terms you should and shouldn’t agree to (especially when it comes to children).


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