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How Many Years Do You have to be Married to Get Spousal Support?

Spousal support - also called alimony - is an issue that arises in some, but not all, divorce cases. If one spouse is unemployed, they might want to request financial support from the working spouse while they find the means to support themselves. The court will not automatically award spousal support for every request, however, and a common question we hear is: how long do I have to be married to qualify for spousal support?

The short answer to this question is that there is no minimum requirement for marriage when it comes to spousal support. If you are getting divorced after two years, the judge might still find that you are in need of temporary support. On the other hand, spouses who are divorcing after 25 years might not qualify for spousal support if they earn enough to support themselves.

How is Spousal Support Determined in Tennessee?

Instead of having a length-of-marriage requirement, Tennessee law instead requires family courts to consider numerous factors when awarding or denying spousal support. These factors include the following:

  • How long the spouses were married
  • The earning capacity and other financial resources of each spouse
  • The financial needs and obligation of each spouse
  • The education, training, and work experience of each spouse, including their ability to obtain suitable employment
  • Any mental or physical conditions that might impact the employability of one spouse
  • The age (and relative employability) of each spouse
  • Whether one spouse has custody of children, which prevents them from working full-time outside the house
  • How the property and assets are being divided in the divorce
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including both financial support and nonmonetary support, including childcare and household services
  • Whether one spouse helped the other with their education, career goals, and increased earning power
  • Whether one spouse was at fault for causing the divorce

Once the court evaluates all relevant factors, they will decide whether one spouse should receive spousal support and whether the other spouse is able to pay such support.

Duration of Support

One aspect of spousal support that might be affected by the length of your marriage is the duration of your support. In most cases, support will last only long enough for the recipient to find employment that supports their needs. In rare cases, spousal support might be awarded for the long-term. However, long-term spousal support is generally only awarded after long-term marriages. If you have a shorter marriage, long-term support will likely not be an option for you.

Discuss Your Rights with a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer

If spousal support is an issue in your divorce, you want the right attorney representing you. This is true whether you are seeking support or your spouse is seeking support, as it is important to obtain a fair determination in either situation. Call 615-890-1982 or contact us online to learn how a Murfreesboro alimony attorney from Dotson & Taylor can help.