Understanding alimony in Tennessee

| Jun 22, 2017 | blog

Alimony is a form of legally ordered financial support for an ex-spouse, which in some states is also called spousal maintenance or spousal support. A court may order alimony when one spouse has a need for support and the other spouse is able to pay.

Tennessee has four types of alimony, each with its own purposes and requirements.

1. Periodic

In divorces from marriages that lasted 25 years or more, courts commonly award periodic alimony. Its purpose is to help the spouse with the lower income maintain a similar living standard to that of the marriage. In many such cases, the length of the marriage means the spouses are no longer young and may have limited opportunities to retrain or gain the experience necessary to make a sufficient income.

2. Rehabilitative

Rehabilitative alimony, on the other hand, aims to provide the lower-income spouse with the financial support he or she needs to gain independence. In setting amounts, judges may look at what would be necessary to achieve that. For example, that spouse may need to attend college or a vocational training program, or take on lower-paid employment in order to gain experience. During that time, alimony might aim to make up the shortfall.

3. Transitional

Transitional alimony is similar to rehabilitative, but does not aim to help the receiving spouse achieve the capacity to earn an income that would enable him or her to return to the lifestyle of the marriage. Instead, the court may award transitional alimony when it deems rehabilitation unnecessary but finds the lower-earning spouse does need some financial support to make the transition to an independent single life.

4. Lump sum

In some situations, the court may consider it more just to award one party a signficant marital asset and give the other lump-sum alimony. In such a case, the award would consist of an amount equivalent to the value of the asset, and the paying spouse may usually pay it in several installments.

Alimony awards depend heavily on the specific circumstances of each case. Sometimes, things change and you need to ask for a modification, which Tennesee courts may be reluctant to grant. An experienced divorce attorney may be able to help you receive the right form of alimony or modify your current agreement.

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