During a marriage dissolution, one party may feel the economic impact of the divorce more than the other due to the differences in their income or earning capacity. Hence, alimony is often awarded to mitigate any unfair economic effects of the divorce and serve as financial assistance from one spouse to the other. If you are considering filing for divorce and want to understand your options regarding spousal support, it is important that you consult with an experienced Tennessee family law attorney for detailed guidance.
Our experienced team of attorneys at McCarter | East PLLC have devoted their careers to offering knowledgeable legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in family law matters, including divorce and alimony. We are available to discuss your unique situation and enlighten you on how to establish or modify spousal support arrangements. McCarter | East PLLC proudly serves clients throughout Murfreesboro and Berry Hill, Tennessee.
Overview of Alimony in Tennessee
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment of financial support provided by the higher-earning spouse to the lower- or non-earning spouse during the divorce proceedings or for a period after a divorce. The spouse who makes the alimony payment is referred to as the "paying spouse," while the spouse who receives the alimony payment is known as the "supported spouse."
Four different types of alimony can be awarded in a Tennessee divorce. These include:
The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to help the supported spouse increase their earning capacity and eventually become self-supporting. The paying spouse will continue making the rehabilitative payments until the supported spouse completes their school or job training, acquires additional job skills, or secures employment.
Periodic alimony or alimony in futuro is a long-term support order which is usually awarded when the supported spouse is unable to earn enough to become financially independent. This may be a result of old age, disability, or critical illness.
The Tennessee courts may award transitional alimony in situations whereby the supported spouse does not need rehabilitative payments but requires financial assistance while they adjust to the new standard of living following the divorce.
Lump-sum alimony or alimony in solido is a form of long-term support in which the judge determines the total amount of support on the date of the divorce. The paying spouse will have to make the alimony payments in installments over a specific duration. The lump-sum alimony will cover the legal expenses, attorney fees, and post-divorce needs of the supported spouse.
An experienced attorney can evaluate your unique situation and determine whether you are eligible for spousal support.
Who is Entitled To Spousal Support?
Contrary to some misconceptions, spousal support is not awarded based on gender. It’s important to remember that the purpose of alimony is to limit any unfair economic or financial effect of the divorce by making adequate provision for the lower-earning spouse. In Tennessee, alimony will be awarded when:
A knowledgeable family law attorney can evaluate your eligibility to receive or pay spousal support, and help you understand how the type, amount, and duration of alimony is determined.
Determination of Type, Amount, and Duration
In order to determine the type, amount, and duration of alimony, the judge may consider the following factors:
The length of the marriage
Each spouse's earning capacity, needs, obligations, and financial resources
The age and mental condition of each spouse
Each spouse's education and training, and each spouse's ability to obtain the education and training necessary to find employment and increase earning capacity
The physical condition of both spouses, including physical and chronic illness
Whether either spouse is the custodial parent of a child whose circumstances make it difficult to obtain employment outside of the home
The separate assets available to each spouse
The marital property division in the divorce
The monetarily and non-monetary contribution of either spouse to the marriage, or the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse
Any other factor the court finds relevant
Every divorce case is unique. A family law attorney can evaluate your unique situation and work diligently with both parties to address and resolve alimony issues amicably.
Changes to Current Alimony Agreements
Spousal support orders are not set in stone. Tennessee law states that the court may change or terminate rehabilitative and periodic alimony if the requesting party demonstrates a substantial and material change of circumstances since the existing decree. Some reasons that may prompt the need to request the modification of alimony orders include:
The paying spouse has a significant drop in income
The receiving spouse has become self-supporting and no longer needs it
The receiving spouse is not making any reasonable effort to become self-supporting
Lump-sum support and transitional alimony may only be modified if the spouses agree to it. An experienced attorney can fight compassionately to protect your legal rights and help you in a way that works best for you.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Filing for divorce in Tennessee involves several complex procedures. Establishing a fair divorce, as well as alimony arrangements, can make the entire process feel even more overwhelming. When preparing for a divorce, reach out to a committed and compassionate attorney to protect your legal rights and receive detailed guidance through every step of the process.