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Tennessee General Law Blog

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Is it Illegal in Tennessee to Badmouth Your Spouse to Coworkers During a Divorce?

While it may seem that you can say whatever you want about your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to anyone, including his/her or your coworkers or employer, when your divorce case is pending, the law in Tennessee thinks otherwise.

Under T.C.A. § 36-4-106, divorcing spouses are prohibited from making “disparaging remarks” about each other to or in the presence of their children and their employer(s). The law also forbids harassing, threatening, assaulting, and abusing one another when their divorce case is pending, and there is an automatic mandatory injunction in place.

The prohibition remains in place until the divorce proceedings are over. The injunction is issued by the court. Violating the injunction can get you in trouble with the law because such violations constitute criminal contempt of court.

In fact, a similar prohibition applies when a child custody petition is filed, even if there is no pending divorce case.

Temporary and Automatic Injunctions in Tennessee Divorce Cases

In every Tennessee divorce, courts issue automatic temporary injunctions in an attempt to prevent unnecessary conflicts between spouses and discourage them from engaging in unethical behavior, such as badmouthing each other, while their divorce is pending.

Tennessee’s mandatory injunction statute provides a list of things the divorcing spouses can and cannot do after filing for divorce. Eric J. Burch, Esq., a family law attorney and founder of the Law Offices of Burch, Morrison, & Stewart, provided an in-depth look at the mandatory injunctions as well as circumstances when the injunctions expire or are terminated in his book “Divorce in Tennessee: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect.”

Does Tennessee Law Prohibit Making Disparaging Comments About Your Spouse to Coworkers?

If the law explicitly prohibits making disparaging remarks about your spouse to or in front of you or your spouse’s children and either party’s employer, does it mean that it is legal to badmouth your spouse to his/her or your coworkers?

In theory, yes. However, just because it is not illegal to make derogatory or unflattering comments about your spouse to coworkers does not necessarily mean that you should do it. After all, doing so may create unnecessary tensions between the divorcing spouses and cause avoidable conflicts, making it more difficult to reach a consensus on child support, alimony, division of marital property, and other issues.

However, it may still be illegal to badmouth your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to or in the presence of either party’s coworkers under certain circumstances:

Interestingly, the injunction prohibiting spouses from making disparaging comments about one another is not limited to false and defamatory remarks, as even true statements and facts would violate the injunction.

Keep in mind that by violating the injunction in Tennessee, you may be punished for contempt of court. Discuss your situation with our Manchester divorce attorney at Law Offices of Burch, Morrison, & Stewart to get a consultation. Call at (931) 954-1066.

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