2019 Tennessee Code
Title 20 - Civil Procedure
Chapter 5 - Abatement and Survival of Actions
§ 20-5-110. Action for death of spouse.
(a) A suit for the wrongful killing of the spouse may be brought in the name of the surviving spouse for the benefit of the surviving spouse and the children of the deceased, in the name of the administrator of the deceased spouse or in the name of the next of kin of the spouse.
(b) The surviving spouse may effect a bona fide compromise in such a suit or right of action and may execute a valid release that shall be binding upon all the children of the deceased or next of kin of the deceased.
(1) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the right to institute and the right to collect any proceeds from a wrongful death action granted by this section to a surviving spouse shall be waived, if the children or next of kin establish the surviving spouse has abandoned the deceased spouse as described in § 36-4-101(a)(13) or otherwise willfully withdrawn for a period of two (2) years.
(2) If the period of two (2) years has passed since the time of abandonment or willful withdrawal then there is created a rebuttable presumption that the surviving spouse abandoned the deceased spouse for purposes of this section.
(3) In an action under this section, the child or next of kin shall serve the surviving spouse with process as provided in the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure or by constructive service as may otherwise be provided by law.
(4) A release entered into pursuant to this section by the surviving spouse shall be binding as provided in subsection (b), unless a copy of an order finding waiver of rights pursuant to this section was served or delivered to the released parties prior to the execution of the release or distribution of funds, whichever occurs first. However, a court of competent jurisdiction, upon motion of the children or next of kin, may grant injunctive relief after notice to the released parties and to the surviving spouse. The party or parties seeking the release shall not be required to answer or otherwise defend any such action.