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Are stay-at-home parents who divorce in Tennessee entitled to alimony?

While undoubtedly one of the most rewarding roles one can fulfill in life, being a parent is also extremely challenging. For parents; bouts of sleep deprivation, toddler temper tantrums and homework battles are all par for the course. Add in the stressors that come with juggling work and parenting responsibilities and the high costs of child care and it's no wonder that more and more working parents are choosing to drop out of the workforce and stay home.

National statistics from 1999 show 23 percent of U.S. mothers stayed at home to care for children, while figures from 2012 indicate that this number increased to 29 percent. Meanwhile the number of stay-at-home dads is also increasing with the Huffington Post reporting in 2015 that 1.9 million, or 16 percent of stay-at-home parents in the U.S., are dads.

Whether by choice or because of a job loss or limited employment opportunities, today an increasing number of moms and dads identify as stay-at-home parents. In fact, in Tennessee more than 270,700 parents report that they stay home to raise children. For these women and men, going through a divorce often raises numerous questions, concerns and insecurities about one's financial security and future.

When is Alimony Awarded in a Tennessee Divorce?

An award of alimony or spousal support in a Tennessee divorce is never guaranteed. Rather, alimony may be granted depending on the specific economic circumstances of each spouse--most notably, one spouse's need versus the other spouse's ability to pay.

Additionally, the following factors are taken into account by a judge when considering a petition for alimony:

  • Length of marriage
  • Ages of each spouse
  • The mental and physical health of each spouse
  • Earning capacity of each spouse
  • Each spouse's education and applicable occupational training
  • Number and age(s) of children
  • Contributions (financial and otherwise) of each spouse to marriage/household
  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Separate assets to be retained by each spouse

How is Alimony Determined in a Tennessee Divorce?

In Tennessee, there are three types of alimony that may be granted in divorce:

1. Rehabilitative Alimony - Also referred to as temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide financial assistance to an "economically disadvantaged spouse," while he or she obtains relevant education and training.

2. Transitional Alimony - May be awarded to assist a spouse with financial hardships related to a divorce and the transition from being married to single.

3. Alimony In Futuro - Long-term award of alimony is typically only awarded in marriages lasting 25 years or longer and/or where one spouse is at a significant economic disadvantage and has little ability to affect his or her economic condition.

If you are a stay-at-home parent who is contemplating or facing divorce, it's important to understand how Tennessee's alimony laws may apply to your specific situation. An attorney can assist in both obtaining alimony as well as in petitioning for the modification of the amount or duration of alimony payments.

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The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
503 Madison St.
Clarksville, TN 37040

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