2000 Mallory Lane Suite 130-386
Franklin, Tennessee 37067

1 (615) 472-8845


When two parties go through a divorce, one spouse is often left in a weaker financial position than the other due to differences in the parties’ relative earning capacity or other factors.  As a matter of public policy, Tennessee law recognizes that such a position may be inequitable when, for example, someone sacrifices their career to focus on their children or the career of the other spouse.  And so, a Court may consider awarding spousal support (often referred to as “alimony”) to the economically disadvantaged spouse.  When determining the type and amount of spousal support to award, the Court’s primary concerns are the financial needs of the requesting spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

When considering whether an award of alimony is appropriate, and if appropriate, the nature and amount of such an award, a Court in Tennessee must consider:
  1. The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs, and financial resources of each party, including income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans and all other sources;
  2. The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training, and the necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such party's earnings capacity to a reasonable level;
  3. The duration of the marriage;
  4. The age and mental condition of each party;
  5. The physical condition of each party, including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic debilitating disease;
  6. The extent to which it would be undesirable for a party to seek employment outside the home, because such party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage;
  7. The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
  8. The provisions made with regard to the marital property;
  9. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  10. The extent to which each party has made such tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as monetary and homemaker contributions, and tangible and intangible contributions by a party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
  11. The relative fault of the parties, in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and
  12. Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
Alimony takes several different forms, and in the appropriate circumstances a Court may award any combination of the following:

  1. Rehabilitative alimony – when justified by the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties, the Court may award rehabilitative alimony to the disadvantaged spouse so that they can achieve an earning capacity more equivalent to that of their spouse.  This is done to help assure that the parties will enjoy similar standards of living.  This type of award can be modified (up or down) or terminated upon a showing of a substantial and material change in circumstances.  It terminates at the death of the recipient or at the death of the payor (unless ordered otherwise).
  2. Alimony in futuro – may be awarded when the disadvantaged spouse cannot be fully rehabilitated through another form of alimony.  It is awarded on a long-term basis but will terminate upon the death or remarriage of the recipient.  This type of award can be modified (up or down) or terminated upon a showing of a substantial and material change in circumstances.  A rebuttable presumption for modification is created when the recipient lives with a third person, and this type of alimony terminates upon the death of the payor unless the Court specifically ordered otherwise.
  3. Transitional alimony – may be awarded when rehabilitative alimony is not necessary, but the disadvantaged spouse needs some support to overcome the “economic consequences” of the divorce.  It is for a determined length of time and is nonmodifiable unless the parties agree otherwise, the Court states so in its initial order, or possibly if the recipient begins living with a third person.

    Transitional alimony will terminate upon the death of the recipient. Transitional alimony shall also terminate upon the death of the payor unless otherwise specifically stated in the Court’s order.  The Court may also provide, at the time of entry of the initial order, that the transitional alimony shall terminate upon the occurrence of other conditions, including the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.
  4. Alimony in solido – also known as “lump sum alimony,” may be awarded for a specific amount determined at the time of divorce, and can include an award of attorney’s fees.  A final award of alimony in solido is not modifiable, except by agreement of the parties, and is not terminable upon the death or remarriage of the recipient or the payor.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other issues, please feel free to call me at the number listed above, send an email, or use the contact form.
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