Kristin Cavallari initially called her split from Jay Cutler ‘loving,’ but in her Tennessee divorce filing she accused him of ‘inappropriate marital conduct.’
When Kristin Cavallari, 33, and Jay Cutler, 37, took to Instagram on Sunday April 26 to announce the end of their six-year marriage, things appeared to be very amicable between the Very Cavallari stars. They told fans that they had come to “a loving conclusion to get a divorce,” saying that they had “nothing but love and respect for one another.” But a day later HollywoodLife obtained copies of court docs that they filed in Tennessee, which proved that their split appears to be acrimonious. On April 21, Jay filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Days later, on April 24, Kristin fired back with a counter complaint accusing the former NFL player of “inappropriate marital conduct.”
In those initial court docs, Kristin didn’t go into detail about what “inappropriate marital conduct” actually means. But, according to top divorce attorney, Kelly Chang Rickert, that term is commonly cited in divorce filings in “fault” states, where parties are required to prove fault as grounds for their divorce. Tennessee, where Kristin and Jay were married and currently live, is a “fault” state.
“In a fault state, someone filing must prove the other side did something wrong in order to be granted a divorce,” the California family law attorney, tells HL EXCLUSIVELY. “In Tennessee, inappropriate marital conduct means a spouse has ’caused pain, anguish or distress to the other party and rendered continued cohabitation improper, unendurable, intolerable or unacceptable.’ In Tennessee, if you are held at ‘fault,’ you can be ordered to pay more alimony. So, marital misconduct can lead to a bigger share of division of property. It could also affect custody.”
It should be noted that The Hills alum has requested primary custody of their three children, sons Camden, 7, and Jaxon, 5, and daughter Saylor, 4. In fact, in an April 28 response to an emergency motion that her husband filed, she states, “Wife does not believe that it is in the best interest of either party or their minor children to reside in the same household…Wife fears that if the parties are required to remain in the same residence, it would be an unhealthy environment, causing irreparable harm to their minor children. Husband makes inappropriate statements to and about Wife and attempts to draw her into an argument in front of their minor children.”
HollywoodLife has reached out to both Jay and Kristin’s reps about these accusations and have yet to receive a response from either camp. But, according to Kelly, if proven true, these claims could “potentially” be defined as “marital misconduct.”
She says that there are multiple interpretations of marital misconduct under Tennessee law. “Inappropriate marital conduct is liberally interpreted,” she tells HL. “It can vary from verbal abuse to physical harm, from extramarital affair to felony offense, from excessive sex to abnormal sex, and more. There are 15 grounds for divorce in Tennessee and inappropriate marital conduct/Cruel and Inhuman Treatment is one of them. A wide range of conduct is covered under this statutory ground. Examples include physical violence, long-term abusive or profane language, degrading treatment, failure to provide a suitable home and clothing, attentions to persons of the opposite sex, and even abandoning the marriage bed.”
Kelly, who is not involved in this case, is not alleging that Jay is guilty of doing any of those things. What we do know is that unless Kristin and Jay suddenly settle, or opt for a private mediation, more information about the breakdown of their marriage will come to light through court documents. In the meantime a source close to The Hills alum told HollywoodLife that she’s “not doing well at all, but she’s doing the best she can.” The source added, “This time is not easy for her and it’s difficult to see it played out so much in public.”