Legal Separation in the State of Tennessee

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Legal separation in Tennessee is a provision that is recognized by the statute. It is termed as “divorce for bed and board” or limited divorce. The only difference between a divorce and legal separation in Tennessee is that divorce terminates the marriage whereas after the legal separation is granted, the couple remains technically married in spite of bring legally separated for all the financial, social and legal purposes.

Grounds for Legal Separation in Tennessee:

The grounds for legal separation in Tennessee are same as the grounds for divorce. These are as follows:

  • Irreconcilable Differences – If the couple states that there are irreconcilable differences between them, which has lead to an irretrievable breakdown of marriage and there is no hope that they would reconcile. These differences could be temperamental, differences of opinion and overall lifestyle and personality clashes which make living together impossible. The court can grant the separation without any difficulty if this reason is cited.
  • Separation without Cohabitation – If the couple has been separated for a period of 2 years and there has been no cohabitation for this entire period, the court can grant legal separation on the basis of voluntary separation. However, the 2 years period must be completed before the date of filing.
  • Impotency – If either of the spouse is unable to perform the sexual act which keeps the other partner dissatisfied, the unsatisfied partner can file for legal separation in the state of Tennessee. The court usually grants the separation in such cases immediately.
  • Adultery – If a partner indulges in romantic liaisons, one night stands, flings and extra marital affairs, the other spouse can file for legal separation under the grounds of adultery. The partners are supposed to be loyal to each other and refrain from infidelity as per the traditional marriage laws.
  • Willful Desertion – If a partner leaves the marital or family home shortly after marriage for a period of one year and has no contact with the family during this year, the other partner can file for a legal separation in the state of Tennessee on the grounds of willful desertion. The only requirement is that there must be absolutely no contact during the period of separation and the period of one year must be completed before the date of filing the petition.
  • Conviction of Felony – If either of the partners is convicted of fraud, crime or felony and has to face imprisonment, the other partner can file for legal separation on the grounds of conviction on criminal charges. Besides, it may make living together unsafe. In order to protect the family, the court can grant the separation.
  • Cruel and Inhuman Treatment – Cruel treatment from one of the spouse's can be a ground for separation as it may be unsafe to live with them under the same roof. This cruel or inhuman treatment can be anything from physical abuse like hitting, bashing or other forms of physical harm and sexual abuse such as sadomasochism, fetishism that may be physically dangerous to other spouse.
  • Pregnancy out of Marriage – If the wife is carrying a child from another man than her husband or if the husband has impregnated the woman other than his wife, the other partner can file for legal separation in the state of Tennessee.
Legal Separation Agreement in Tennessee:

The legal separation agreement can be also termed as separation agreement or settlement agreement. The couple has to prepare a settlement regarding the marital issues such as childcare, property arrangement and other related issues that may arise if the couple eventually decides to get a divorce. The settlement agreement in Tennessee deals with the following issues:

  • Property Settlement – Tennessee is an equitable distribution state where all the property, debts, assets, duties and responsibilities acquired during the marriage are divided equitably between the parties. This distribution is fair rather than equal and is beneficial to both the parties.
  • Parenting Plan – Parents are supposed to make a parenting plan complete with the child custody, support and visitation arrangement. The holidays, breaks and vacations and the weekly visits need to be specified along with the transportation details and the communication arrangements.
  • Child Custody – The custody of the children is awarded according to the preference of the children if they are above the age 12. The preference of the parents and their financial capacity to provide the children with their basic necessities and the standard of life they enjoyed prior to the separation of their parents is also considered.
  • Spousal Support – There are 4 types of alimony. These are as follows:
    • Lump sum Alimony – is paid in installments for a long time until the dependent spouse finds a job and adjusts the lifestyle according to the new financial position.
    • Periodic Alimony – is a long-term alimony payment until the death or remarriage of the dependent spouse.
    • Rehabilitative Alimony – helps to establish the standard of life enjoyed during the marriage.
    • Transitional Alimony – is paid for a specific time period until the dependent spouse gets adjusted to the new lifestyle.
  • Child Support – Each parent is supposed to pay a percentage of their net income as per the number of dependent children in the household. These percentages are as follows: 1 child – 20%, 2 – 25%, 3 – 30%, 4 – 35%, 5 – 40% and 6 or more children – 45%
The legal separation in Tennessee is recognized by the state and the couple has to prepare the documentation accordingly.

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