How does alimony work in Tennessee?

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If you are in the process of getting a divorce or simply considering one, then you have likely thought a lot about how it will impact your financial situation. Whether you’re considered the dependent spouse or the supporting spouse, alimony (and temporary spousal support) is something you need to think about. So, how does alimony work in a divorce in Tennessee? Let’s start with the basics.

A couple items we would like to highlight first:

Unlike child support, there is no certain numerical formula to calculate how much alimony you will receive or be required to pay. Per Tennessee State Law, the Divorce Court will consider the following factors when determining alimony:

  • Ability to pay
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age of the parties
  • The physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living
  • The earning capacities of the parties
  • The educational levels & vocational skills of the parties
  • The employability of the parties
  • Marital misconduct
  • The length of absence from the job market
  • The custodial responsibilities of the party seeking alimony
  • The time & expense necessary for the party seeking alimony to acquire sufficient education or training in order to find appropriate employment
  • The opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income
  • The history of the non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party, including:
    • Contributions to the care and education of the children
    • Interruption of personal careers and/or educational opportunities
  • The history of financial contributions to the marriage by each party, including:
    • Contributions to the care and education of the children
    • Interruption of personal careers and/or educational opportunities
  • The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable
  • Any other factors which the court may deem relevant

There are 4 types of alimony in the state of Tennessee:

  1. Periodic Alimony (Alimony in Futuro): this is long-term support for the dependent spouse, and it is often permanent.
  2. Lump-Sum Alimony (Alimony in Solido): this type of support is usually paid in a lump sum once the divorce is finalized or paid out in installments set to expire at a certain time.
  3. Rehabilitative Alimony: this type of alimony is considered short-term, and it’s designed to enable the disadvantaged spouse to become more self-sufficient–through education, job training, etc. Rehabilitative Alimony tends to be preferred by Tennessee courts. 
  4. Transitional Alimony: this is another form of short-term alimony. It’s typically awarded when an otherwise self-sufficient spouse needs financial assistance to maintain the household while they adjust to the loss of a second income.

For additional information, see ​​Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-5-121.

In addition to these four types of alimony, there is also something called Temporary Spousal Support (or pendente lite support). Temporary support is typically paid out as long as the divorce is pending. So if you’re worried about your financial circumstances or the length of time your divorce may take, then you need to consider this possibility as well. 

Receiving (or avoiding) alimony in Tennessee:

The bottom line? If one party has a need and the other has the ability to pay, then the court will consider requiring alimony to be paid. However, alimony is not required by the state of Tennessee. In order to get the results you need, it is essential that the attorney representing you has experience working with divorce cases and knows how to navigate temporary and/or long-term support. Likewise, if you’re the spouse that may be expected to pay alimony, then you need someone in your corner to make a case on your behalf. 

If you or your loved one are in need of legal representation in a criminal defense or family matter, reach out to us today

For additional updates and information on our local court, their departments, as well as our elected officials, visit the Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk website.

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