Alimony & Spousal Support

If you are contemplating a divorce, it is important that you have all of the information relating to your options, including the possibility of alimony being awarded in your case. Alimony is sometimes referred to as separate maintenance or spousal support. Either spouse may be ordered to pay alimony. Tennessee law allows alimony to be paid during the divorce and after the marriage is dissolved in order to ensure equitability between the two spouses. The amount and duration of alimony varies widely and is decided by the court depending upon the nature of the case and many other factors.

When a spouse makes a request for alimony in a divorce and the parties are unable to agree on alimony, the court will take into account many different factors to arrive at a decision on the type, amount, and duration of any alimony awarded. The biggest consideration of a court in making an alimony decision will be the relative incomes of each spouse, the age and income potential of each spouse, and potentially the number of children and the parents role in caring for the children. The court may also consider:

  • The past earning, capability, needs, obligations, and relative financial resources of each spouse. This may also include future income from retirement plans, investments, pensions, or any other profit sharing enterprise.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The earning potential of each spouse, taking into account their education and training or the ability to secure training or education which would allow them to improve their employability or ability to earn in the future.
  • The age and the physical and mental health of each spouse.
  • The health of each spouse, which may include any chronic illness or disability.
  • Whether it is appropriate for a spouse to seek employment outside of the home when/if they have been the primary caretaker for the minor children.
  • Division of marital property and assets, or debts made in the divorce.
  • The separate assets of each spouse, both tangible and intangible.
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage.
  • The relative fault of the parties in the separation and divorce.
  • The relative tax consequences of alimony to the parties in order to ensure and equitable division of financial resources between them.

There are four basic types of alimony which may be awarded under the laws of Tennessee. These are transitional alimony, rehabilitative alimony, alimony in solido, and alimony in futuro. Each type of alimony has been created considering all of the possible needs and problems of divorcing couples. Some of the alimony is modifiable and some of the types of alimony are non-modifiable. Some types of alimony are presumed to terminate upon cohabitation with another person after the divorce is finalized. Given the intricate laws and complexities of alimony cases, it is advisable to consult an experienced and knowledgeable Tennessee family law attorney when considering divorce.