Middle Tennessee Family Law | Tiffany Johns Law Office

Archives: September 2015

Ashley Madison Poses Danger For Cheating Spouses

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Popularity of Ashley Madison Website Poses Danger for Cheating Party in Divorce

Tennessee divorce laws may punish cheaters seeking alimony

Times have changed from the days when the only way to get a divorce was to prove that your spouse was at fault in causing the marriage to fall apart. Today, most states have made it easier to terminate a marriage by eliminating fault in favor of so-called “no-fault” grounds for divorce.

A Nashville couple may now go to court and obtain a divorce without having to prove that one of them was at fault. Although fault grounds continue to exist, the two no-fault grounds for divorce in Tennessee are:

  • Irreconcilable Differences: Essentially, the parties agree that they can no longer get along and are unable to resolve the issues existing between them.
  • Legal Separation: Either spouse may file for divorce based upon having lived separate and apart under a legal separation for at least two consecutive years. The couple cannot have any minor children, and they must not have cohabitated with each other during the two years.

But, don’t think that fault grounds for divorce are a thing of the past. Adultery remains as one of the fault grounds upon which a judge may grant a divorce in Tennessee. Thinking that the reason a divorce is granted does not make a difference to how the financial and economic issues are resolved would be a mistake.

The popularity of websites such as Ashley Madison with almost 20 million subscribers might give the impression that cheating on your spouse is not a big deal in today’s world of no-fault divorces. The truth is that cheating on your spouse could be a factor in a court deciding to award alimony.

Adultery is a factor courts are authorized to consider when deciding whether to award alimony. Under the law, judges in Nashville may consider several factors including:

  • The earning potential and separate assets of each spouse
  • The age, physical condition and mental health of each spouse
  • The education and job skills of each spouse
  • The standard of living of the couple during the marriage
  • The degree to which each spouse contributed to causing the divorce

It is clear that courts may take into consideration the conduct of a cheating spouse, particularly in cases where the ground relied on for the divorce is adultery. What is not as clear is the extent to which adultery affects the decision to order the payment of alimony.

If the adulterous spouse is the one requesting alimony, courts in the state have ruled that the party’s conduct may be taken into account and used to justify a reduction in the amount of support he or she would otherwise receive. When the paying spouse is the one spending too much time on the Ashley Madison website, courts have made it clear that alimony may not be used to punish the cheating spouse. In other words, judges cannot increase the amount of alimony beyond the needs of the receiving spouse merely to punish the cheater.

Tiffany Johns is the Nashville divorce attorney at Middle Tennessee Family Law, and is your best resource for experienced and knowledgeable legal advice and guidance in a divorce. We provide aggressive representation when you need it most. Call us today at 615-771-6944 to schedule a free initial consultation, or email us through our website. Evening hours and weekend appointments are always available.