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Adultery in Tennessee—Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

If you are going through a divorce in Tennessee in which cheating was a factor, you may be wondering whether cheating affects an alimony award in this state. Whether adultery affects alimony awards varies depending on the state; however, in the state of Tennessee, it may have an impact.

Alimony Awards in Tennessee

Tennessee courts award alimony to be paid from one spouse to the other in cases where one spouse is in a better financial situation than the other. One common example of this income disparity in spouses is when one spouse stays home to raise the couple’s children while the other spouse works.

If that couple decides to divorce, then the spouse who stayed at home with the children may be at a disadvantage in the workforce due to the time he or she spent out of the workforce, resulting in a much lower income upon returning to work. The spouse that worked during the marriage may be ordered to pay the lower-earning spouse alimony to even things out between the spouses. Additionally, while not specifically considered alimony, the judge may also order the higher-earning spouse to pay for the lower-earning spouse’s attorney fees.

Alimony may be temporary or may last until the spouse receiving the alimony remarries. One of the main goals of alimony is to allow the lower-earning spouse the ability to provide for the needs of the disadvantaged spouse.

Factors for Deciding Alimony Awards

The courts in Tennessee weigh several different factors when determining whether to award alimony from one spouse to another, and if so—how much? No one factor is determinative here; rather, all factors are weighed and considered. Some (not all) of these factors are listed below:

-The length of the marriage

-The earning potential of each spouse

-The education of each spouse

-The couple’s standard of living throughout the marriage

-Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage

-Each spouse’s fault in causing the divorce ie. Adultery

The last factor, which allows the judge to consider each spouse’s fault in causing the divorce, allows the judge to consider whether cheating or adultery should have any impact on an award of alimony in the divorce.

The Impact of Cheating on Alimony

As stated above, Tennessee courts consider cheating by one or both spouses as one of the many factors they weigh when deciding on an alimony award. If the unfaithful spouse is the one in the better financial position, and thus would be the one paying the alimony, there is generally no impact on the alimony award. Cheating, as an alimony factor, typically is only considered when the spouse who was unfaithful is the spouse who would be receiving alimony. The court may decide to decline an award of alimony altogether if the spouse that was cheated on can prove that the main reason for the divorce is due to the lesser-earning spouse cheating on them.

Since cheating can impact an award of alimony in Tennessee, it is a good idea to speak with one of our knowledgeable Murfreesboro Tennessee divorce attorneys right away if this is a consideration in your divorce. Contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Dotson and Taylor, Attorneys at Law by phone at 615-890-1982 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.