Alimony in Tennessee Divorce Law
One of the most loved and feared words in the world of divorce is alimony. It’s pretty good if you’re receiver, pretty bad if you’re the giver. It’s also one of the most misunderstood aspects of the divorce process. As a term, alimony’s not so confusing — most people are probably aware that it’s the word used for financial support provided by a higher earning spouse after a divorce — but the process of figuring out the details of alimony can get complicated.
Determination of alimony varies depending on where you live. In the state of Tennessee, alimony legislation has had some twists and turns, historically speaking. It makes sense, therefore, that misunderstandings are commonplace these days.
It’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of the divorce process.
Grounds for Alimony
In a vague sense, alimony comes into play when divorce places one spouse in a financially disadvantageous position. This spouse would be the recipient and the other would be the obliger, or the spouse who has to foot the bill for the other spouse’s unaffordable yet necessary expenses. However, if the obliger isn’t capable of footing the bill for those expenses, alimony is off the table.
Put simply, for alimony to be applicable in a divorce, one spouse must be unable to afford basic living expenses and the other spouse must be able to cover them.
When it comes to calculating alimony, a judge will take three factors into account: how much, how long, and what type.
The Many Faces of Alimony
In Tennessee, there are currently four categories of alimony, which are each geared towards different circumstances. Different types of alimony have different rules, so it’s absolutely crucial to be aware of the various distinctions. The four categories are:
- Alimony in Futuro: This is the type of alimony used in cases where one spouse’s financial dependency makes it impossible for them to maintain the standard of living to which they’ve grown accustomed. Alimony in Futuro somewhat evens the playing field, leveling out disparities between either spouse’s income. And yes — modifications can be made to this type of alimony, as long as the new terms are agreeable to the court. Alimony in Futuro ends when either the obliger or the recipient spouse dies or remarries, “automatically and unconditionally”.
- Transitional Alimony: While this type of alimony isn’t specifically designed to accommodate lesser-earning spouses who have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it does essentially function in the same way as Alimony in Futuro. Transitional alimony applies to situations in which the financial burdens of divorce cause a disparity in financial stability. The rules for modification are similar to alimony in futuro.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: When economic disparity between spouses can be solved by the financially disadvantaged spouse receiving education, training, or otherwise relevant experience. If this is the case, the obliger spouse would finance such an operation until the recipient is deemed by capable of supporting themselves. As far as modification goes, rehabilitative alimony is fairly flexible and takes into account the specifics of the situation.
- Alimony in Solido: Unlike the other three types of alimony, this type cannot be modified. The payments in alimony in solido cases come in the form of property awards, or in some scenarios, staggered payments delivered over a specified range of time. Even if a spouse dies or remarries, alimony in solido does not terminate.
Representation for Alimony Case
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, the obvious first step is to find trustworthy legal representation. All divorce cases — especially those involving alimony — proceed most smoothly and satisfactorily when an experienced attorney is helping to call the shots.
Many divorce lawyers in Tennessee offer free initial consultations, which are an excellent opportunity to both get a feel for the attorney and receive much-needed answers to any basic questions you probably have about alimony or the divorce process in general. Don’t wait to get started on your search! The sooner you get the ball rolling, the better off you’ll be in the long run.