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Tennessee divorce case could change spousal support awards

There are a number of things that a couple has to think about when going through a divorce. Some of these include child support, visitation plans, and property division. Property division can become a big source of contention between couples; they may find themselves fighting over the smallest things.

But another consideration after the divorce is spousal support, also known as alimony. Even with an equitable or equal division of property, one spouse may be financially unable to support themselves. That's when alimony comes into play. However, an alimony case has reached the Tennessee Supreme Court and could change the way alimony is granted.

The case in question involves the divorce of a Tennessee couple that began in 2007. The two had been married for 21 years and had two children together. After the divorce, the husband was ordered to pay monthly alimony payments to his ex-wife, payments which were to continue until she remarried or passed away.

This type of alimony is generally granted to divorced individuals who are 50 years of age or older. However, the wife was in her 40s at the time of their divorce.

Additionally, this type of spousal support is most often awarded when the marriage lasted more than 30 years and the spouse receiving the award would have difficulty finding a job that would allow them to maintain their current lifestyle. The wife in this case was gainfully employed and could support herself financially.

One family law expert believes that this case could completely change the way courts grant alimony payments. If this type of spousal support is allowed to stand, it may discourage couples from staying in long-term marriages. Should one spouse be required to pay the other monthly payments even if the other has a good income and job?

However, a spouse whose finances are tight after the divorce, whether that is because of a loss of income or was awarded less property, may find spousal support to be necessary. It can help them to move forward with their life.

Source: The Tennessean online, "TN Supreme Court considers change in alimony payments," Associated Press, 10 March 2011

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