Is Alimony Permanent in TN?
Alimony is one of the most hotly contested issues in Tennessee divorce cases these days. In the past, a wife who was a homemaker would often receive long-term alimony awards for years after the marriage. The courts were focused on allowing a wife to enjoy the same standard of living she did during the marriage despite not working - often, for the rest of her life. However, times have certainly changed, and alimony laws have evolved considerably as well. While permanent alimony may still be possible in specific situations, it is certainly no longer the norm.
The Purpose of Alimony
Alimony payments are not intended to be punitive to the payor. Instead, they are meant to even the playing field for divorcing spouses when there is a discrepancy in earning ability at the time of the divorce. For example:
- A wife decided to stay home instead of pursuing a career to care for the household for 15 years, relying on the husband’s income to cover all household bills and expenses
- When the spouses decide to divorce, the wife does not have the skills or experience to earn enough to support herself
- The court may order the husband to pay alimony while the wife gains the education or training needed to live without the additional financial support
It is important to note that in modern times, alimony generally only continues until the recipient can support themselves. The spouse that needs alimony is still expected to take steps to earn their own living instead of relying on alimony payments indefinitely.
Another important change is that the husband is no longer the automatic alimony provider in many cases. Many husbands are choosing to stay home or make sacrifices to promote the careers of their wives, so alimony payments could go either way.
Is Permanent Alimony Still Possible?
While permanent alimony orders have significantly decreased, they are still possible under Tennessee law in the right situation. A court must consider different factors when determining whether to award permanent alimony, including:
- The earning ability of each spouse
- The financial assets, separate property, and marital property awards of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The age, physical health, and mental health of each spouse
- The tangible and intangible contributions of each spouse to the marriage
- The standard of living for the spouses during the marriage
After examining all the factors and circumstances of a marriage, the court may still decide that permanent alimony is appropriate. For instance, a husband and wife were married for 40 years. The wife stayed home to raise their children and support the household while the husband received his medical degree and built a prominent medical practice. Once they had an empty nest, the wife volunteered at various organizations. At the time of the divorce, the wife is 65 years old and does not have any earning experience. In this situation, the court may decide that expecting the wife to start a career at this point is unreasonable, and that permanent alimony may be appropriate.
Contact a Murfreesboro Alimony Attorney to Learn about Your Rights
Permanent alimony is not common in Tennessee, but you always want to ensure you receive a fair alimony ruling from the court. The divorce lawyers at Dotson & Taylor, Attorneys at Law in Murfreesboro can help. Call 615-890-1982 or contact us online today.