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:
Alimony takes several different forms, and in the appropriate circumstances a Court may award any combination of the following:
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).
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.
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.
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.
The Mason Family Law Firm represents clients throughout Middle Tennessee, including Davidson County, Williamson County, Dickson County, Cheatham County, Rutherford County, Maury County, Wilson County, Sumner County, and the cities of Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Lebanon, Gallatin, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, Mount Juliet, Smyrna, Spring Hill, Ashland City, Kingston Springs, and others at clients’ request.