After a divorce, money can get tight. The transition of going from a two-income family to a one-income family is a difficult one, and many people have to make cuts. Financial situations become even more difficult when one spouse was not working and was staying at home to take care of the family. This person may have to enter the working world after being out of it for years, which can be extremely stressful, especially when good jobs are hard to come by. Fortunately, alimony, or spousal support, may be available to help a spouse get by financially. Tennessee law determines whether and how much alimony will be awarded to a spouse after a divorce.

What is alimony?

Pursuant to Tennessee law, a woman or a man getting a divorce may be entitled to alimony from his or her spouse because spouses have a continuing duty to support one another. There are three different kinds of alimony in Tennessee. Alimony in solido is lump sum alimony, which requires one spouse to pay money to the other spouse because of an inequality in the division of property. Alimony in futuro is alimony paid on a periodic basis if the spouses have a disparity in income. This type of alimony allows the lesser earning spouse to maintain the standard of living that he or she became accustomed to during the marriage. Finally, rehabilitative alimony is paid to a spouse who needs job training, school or other assistance in order to find work.

A spouse may be awarded more than one type of alimony. Alimony can be awarded as part of the final divorce decree, but it can also be awarded on a temporary basis during the divorce if the court determines that it is necessary.

How does the court make decisions about alimony?

The Tennessee courts will look at many factors when determining whether or not to award alimony, how much alimony to award and how long a spouse should receive alimony. The two most important things that the courts look at are the need of the requesting spouse to receive alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony. The court will consider all sources of each spouse’s income when making this determination. The court will also consider:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s training, education or ability to obtain education and training to improve earning capacity
  • The separate property of the spouses and the division of marital property
  • The age, mental and physical condition of each spouse
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Who is more to blame for the breakdown of the marriage

The court will also consider whether it is better for one spouse to stay at home with the children. Both the tangible and intangible contributions of each spouse to the marriage will be looked at, including monetary contributions, contributions to the maintenance of the home, contributions to the care of the children and contributions to the training and increased earning power of the other spouse.

Get help

Divorcing spouses in Tennessee who wish to petition the court for alimony payments should contact a family law attorney. As one can easily see, the court takes many factors into account, and it is best to have an experienced professional’s help along the way.

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