Several of the 15 grounds for divorce, enumerated at Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-4- 101,
require allegations that, if proved, could also influence the court’s child custody determination
regarding legal decision-making and parenting time. If the child’s safety and well-being are at
risk because of a parent’s marital misconduct, then evidence of questionable parenting ability
will be examined by the court.

In awarding child custody, the court considers all relevant factors. Many of those statutory
factors in § 36-4- 101 will hinge upon the same evidence used to establish grounds for an at-fault
divorce in Tennessee.

Consider How Children of Divorce Might Be Harmed By The Same Facts & Circumstances Raised In The Following Grounds for Divorce:

Inappropriate Marital Conduct: Causing your spouse such physical or mental pain and anguish as
to render cohabitation unsafe and improper. This ground is also referred to as cruel and inhuman

Adultery: For instance, a parent carrying on an extramarital affair in the child’s presence.

Desertion: Willfully deserting your spouse without reasonable cause for one whole year.

Abandonment: Throwing your spouse out of the marital home with no just cause, and refusing to
provide support while having the ability to so provide.

Conviction of an Infamous Crime: For instance, a parent is convicted of incest, rape, or some
other infamous crime as defined by Tennessee statute.

Conviction of a Felony: For example, a parent’s conviction and imprisonment for armed robbery.

Attempt to Kill One’s Spouse: For example, one parent’s attempt to run down the other parent with
a child in the vehicle.

Habitual Drunkenness or Abuse of Narcotics: For instance, the child observes the parent drinking
or using illegal drugs or in an intoxicated state.

Although Alimony & Child Custody May Be Impacted by Evidence of a Spouse’s Marital Fault, It has no Bearing on the Division of Marital Property in Tennessee.
When dividing marital property and debts, the court is tasked with making an equitable distribution of the same between the parties, without regard to marital fault. Of course, once marital fault is established as grounds for divorce, that knowledge is not erased from the Judge’s mind. It might have an undercurrent effect, especially if the particular marital misconduct was egregious or coupled with an attempt to hide assets from division in divorce.

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