I think I will shock no one when I tell you that the Court of Appeals has upheld a determination from Nashville’s own Second Circuit that being convicted of rape is grounds for divorce under the inappropriate marital conduct standard.  In Watt v. Watt, the Husband was sentenced to 35 years after being convicted of raping a minor.    The Court gave a good reminder of what qualifies as inappropriate marital conduct under the statute and specifically with regard to criminal activity:

“Establishing inappropriate marital conduct does not require that one spouse be convicted of a crime. As we have explained, inappropriate marital conduct can be found when “[t]he husband or the wife is guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as renders cohabitation unsafe and improper. . . .” Chaffin v. Ellis, 211 S.W.3d 264, 289 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006) (quoting Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-101(11) (2001)); see Eldridge v. Eldridge, 137 S.W.3d 1, 23-24 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002). Such conduct exists when either spouse has engaged in “a course of conduct which (1) caused pain, anguish or distress to the other party and (2) rendered continued cohabitation „improper,‟ „unendurable,‟ „intolerable,‟ or „unacceptable.‟” Chaffin, 211 S.W.3d at 289 (quoting Eldridge, 137 S.W.3d at 24); Earls v. Earls, 42 S.W.3d 877, 892 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000) (Cottrell, J., concurring). As these authorities establish, under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-101(a)(11), the issue is whether a spouse engaged in inappropriate marital conduct during the marriage, not whether a spouse was convicted of a crime for engaging in that conduct.”



The Husband also appealed the division of property and alimony in futuro but was denied.  Of note in the distribution is how equitable division works in Tennessee.  Husband received a greater portion of the annuity since he had primarily contributed to that asset, whereas the Wife who paid the mortgage for the entire separation which lead to the equity, received the proceeds from the home as her property settlement.

To read more, click HERE or cut and paste this link:  http://www.tba.org/sites/default/files/janeelliotwatt_042616.pdf

Property of Middle Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Morgan Smith, 144 2nd Ave N Ste 200 Nashville TN 37201 (615)620-5848