Alimony/Spousal Support

Sometimes during a divorce, one spouse is left at a financial disadvantage. When this occurs, individuals often seek financial maintenance from the divorcing spouse. Under Tennessee’s alimony law, individuals that go through a divorce can receive maintenance payments to assist them financially during or after a divorce. When determining a spouse’s ability to receive financial support, the paying spouse’s financial ability to pay is taken into consideration.

There are numerous factors taken into consideration when determining if a party to the divorce can receive alimony.  Specifically, how much they receive. In order to increase your chance of receiving alimony, it is crucial for you to consult with an experienced divorce attorney from Griffin & Davis, PLLC

Amounts Awarded Under Alimony Law

When alimony is awarded, one spouse, the obligatory, is required to give financial compensation to the other spouse, the recipient. Alimony can be awarded for a period of months, years, or a lifetime and can range from a modest to a substantial amount of money depending on the circumstances of each case.

The current law can require either spouse to pay alimony to the other. Four different types of alimony can be awarded. These include:

  • Alimony in Solido
  • Alimony in Futuro
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Transitional alimony

An award for alimony can be paid from an obligator’s monthly income, or it can be paid from property they own. The type of alimony generally determines how long a person will receive it and from what resource it is to be paid.

Alimony In Solido: This type of alimony is often called “lump-sum alimony.” For this type of alimony order, an obligatory will be required to give the recipient a lump-sum amount of money out of their property. Generally, this is calculated by determining the combined property total. The judge will then divide the total amount in half. Once the amount is determined, the judge will order the obligatory to pay an amount of money to the recipient that “balances” out their property totals. In the end, both parties will leave the divorce with the same amount of property concerning finance.

Alimony In Futuro: Futuro alimony is also referred to as “permanent alimony.” This alimony is often awarded in divorces where one spouse earns significantly more money than the other. Alimony is awarded as a way for the disadvantaged spouse to maintain an accustomed life. This form of alimony is awarded until death occurs or the remarriage of the recipient spouse.

Rehabilitative Alimony: If one spouse decides to engage in business training or an educational program, they can receive rehabilitative alimony throughout the duration of their education. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded until the former spouse graduates and/or obtains a job.

Transitional Alimony: This type of alimony is given to a spouse that was financially impacted by the divorce process. When a spouse has skills that are employable, but unable to work due to the divorce process, they can receive transitional alimony to help bridge the gap financially until they recover and obtain a new job.

How Alimony Is Determined

There are several factors taken into consideration when a judge determines whether alimony should be awarded. Under Tennessee law, courts may consider:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that exist
  • The separate property of each spouse
  • The combined marital property
  • Custody arrangements
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Financial resources of each spouse – including their earning capacity, retirement, and profit-sharing benefits
  • The occupation and job skills of each spouse
  • How each spouse contributed financially during the marriage
  • The age and health conditions of each spouse

Conduct during the marriage is another factor that may be taken into consideration in awarding alimony. Generally, any factor that deems equitable in making a determination can be utilized during the process.

It is imperative for anyone going through a divorce to schedule a consultation with an attorney from Griffin & Davis, PLLC. We help clients identify the most pragmatic and efficient solutions for handling all aspects of your divorce, including alimony.

Alimony Law In Tennessee Divorce: Frequently Asked Questions

Individuals going through a divorce in Tennessee often ask questions regarding the types of alimony and how it is calculated. Some other important questions also include:

How Does Alimony Work Under Tennessee Law?

Under Tennessee law, alimony is awarded by way of payment from one spouse to another for financial support. There are several reasons a court may order a party to pay alimony, but it generally comes down to providing a spouse the ability to maintain the same or a similar lifestyle to what they had during the marriage. Whether this is done through lump-sum payment, permanently, or even for rehabilitation purposes takes into consideration a person’s education and employment, as well as other factors.

How Is Alimony Calculated?

Tennessee does not have a set “alimony formula” used to calculate the amount awarded. Instead, the judge will look at various factors in a case. Is a spouse working or employable? Are they going through training to advance their career? Or has one spouse been a stay-at-home parent? The marital circumstances often determine if and how much alimony is awarded.

Who Is Considered The Dependent Spouse?

A dependent spouse is a term used to describe an individual receiving support during the marriage. In traditional circumstances, a dependent spouse often does not work or stays at home with the children. Now, it could extend to cover individuals that made significantly less money than the other spouse. When it comes to determining who the dependent spouse is in a contested divorce, a vocational expert will often testify regarding a spouse’s future earning capacity.

What Is Voluntary Unemployment?

A person can be considered voluntarily unemployed by the court. This argument is often used when a spouse quits their job for an unjustifiable reason. For example, if a spouse quits their well-paying job to relocate closer to their new love interest. Conversely, a person laid off can be considered voluntarily unemployed if they fail to seek an adequate line of employment immediately after. In cases involving individuals that are voluntarily unemployed, it is important for recipient spouses to prove that this is the case. Hiring a reputable attorney will greatly assist your efforts in proving your case.

What Is Voluntary Underemployment?

When a person secures a job that pays far less than their earning capacity, they are considered as being voluntarily under-employed. An example of this would be a person passing the bar, where they could make over $150,000, but instead takes a job that pays only $50,000 in a similar line of work. When this is proven in a divorce case, the amount of alimony awarded is typically calculated by an imputed income of how much the obligator could make rather than how much they do. In cases involving individuals that are voluntarily under-employed, it is important for recipient spouses to prove that this is the case. Hiring a reputable attorney will greatly assist your efforts in proving your case.

Can A Spouse Quit Work To Avoid Alimony?

No. Quitting work to avoid alimony is a clear example of being voluntarily unemployed. Thankfully, in these situations, alimony is calculated based on a person’s earning capacity and not necessarily how much they earn. Individuals that refuse to pay alimony can be held in contempt.

One of the most common things we see in cases where a spouse quits their job to avoid alimony involves them later filing for a modification to the amount of alimony they pay. When this occurs, it is imperative for a recipient to contact an attorney to assist them with their case. The recipient can argue that the spouse is intentionally unemployed or underemployed to avoid their alimony payments.

Can A Court Award Multiple Types Of Alimony At Once?

Under Tennessee alimony law, a court can award multiple types of alimony in any divorce case. Quite often, this includes an award for rehabilitative or permanent alimony in combination with lump sum alimony. Alimony awards act as a way of “leveling” the amount of money each spouse has as well as ensuring they are both able to maintain the same type of long-term lifestyle.
Awarding multiple types of alimony takes into consideration numerous factors regarding the divorce and the marriage. Additionally, in cases involving children, spouses can be awarded both child support and spousal support during their divorce proceedings.

Contact Griffin & Davis, PLLC To Help You Get The Alimony Award You Deserve

Going through a divorce can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Not only are they forced to go through lifestyle changes, but they are left facing growing financial problems. The attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC understand what you are going through, which is why we work so vigorously to protect your rights throughout the divorce procedure. We directly service Sparta, Kingston, Crossville, and Cookeville with offices in each.  We also handle matters in the surrounding regions.  Contact us today at 931-837-2050 or 865-354-3333 to schedule a consultation to discuss which options are available for you.