Alimony in Tennessee: Guidelines and Considerations for Spousal Support

Alimony can be vital for divorcing spouses in Tennessee. Various studies have established that divorce can lead to serious financial pressures for spouses, and women may face disproportionately high levels of economic hardship. Alimony can alleviate some of these pressures, and it is important to approach this potential source of support in the most efficient manner possible. On the other hand, spouses faced with the prospect of paying alimony should obviously avoid providing their exes with more than they are legally required to. Approaching alimony is easier when you fully understand the various guidelines and considerations that apply in Tennessee. 

Alimony Defined

The concept of alimony is covered under 36-5-121 – decree for support of spouse. Under this section, alimony is defined as a payment from one spouse to or “for the benefit of” another in the event of a divorce. 

Who Gets Alimony in Tennessee?

A wide range of spouses are eligible for alimony in Tennessee, and it perhaps makes more sense to cover those who cannot receive alimony rather than those who can. Alimony is only available for divorced spouses. If you were never legally married, you cannot pursue alimony. Furthermore, alimony may only be available for those who have been married for at least a few years.  Spouses emerging from very short marriages may not be eligible to receive alimony. 

Finally, you should know that if the court sees that a spouse has engaged in an adulterous affair during a marriage, the adulterous spouse may become ineligible to receive alimony. 

What is the Average Amount of Alimony in Tennessee?

Family courts in Tennessee have the authority to award alimony payments that they consider necessary for the support and maintenance of the receiving spouse. Tennessee specifically mentions costs associated with job training and education. In making alimony calculations, the court may consider not only the financial needs of the receiving spouse but also the payor’s ability to provide certain levels of support. In other words, the court makes its alimony calculations based on the income of the payor and the needs of the receiving spouse. 

In addition, the court mentions that if one spouse goes through some kind of “economic detriment” to benefit the marriage (such as staying home to look after the kids), they should experience the same standard of living that they became accustomed to during the marriage. 

Types of Alimony in Tennessee

There are many different types of alimony in Tennessee:

  • Alimony in Futuro: This type of alimony is the only one that can theoretically last forever. It continues on a long-term or permanent basis, and it only ceases when the payor dies. This type of alimony is often awarded after long marriages that last numerous decades.

  • Alimony in Solido: Spouses may have the option to make lump-sum alimony payments rather than regular installments. This can be beneficial in certain situations, but it is best to discuss the situation with a family law attorney in Nashville before making or receiving a lump-sum alimony payment.

  • Rehabilitative Alimony: This is a short-term form of alimony specifically designed to cover educational, re-training, and re-certification costs incurred by spouses seeking financial independence.

  • Transitional Alimony: Another example of short-term alimony, transitional alimony only exists to ease the economic turmoil associated with the end of a marriage. It gives the spouse just enough time to get used to the single life, and it ceases within a set amount of time.

How Long Does Alimony Last in Tennessee?

Tennessee family courts may order alimony payments in monthly, semimonthly, or weekly installments. Unlike in many other states, there is no law against permanent alimony in Tennessee. Theoretically, alimony could continue until the death of the payor. The duration of alimony depends on various factors, however – including the length of the marriage and the type of alimony. 

Rehabilitative alimony only lasts long enough for a spouse to re-educate, recertify, and otherwise prepare themselves to re-enter the workforce. For example, a spouse might go to college for a year to earn a bookkeeping certification. Once these steps have been completed and the spouse is sufficiently prepared to become financially independent once again, rehabilitative alimony must cease. 

Transitional alimony is, by definition, temporary, and it comes with a set end date. Alimony in futuro can be permanent in nature. A general rule of thumb is that for every three years of marriage, spouses will receive one year of alimony payments. For marriages that are extremely short (less than three years), no alimony may be awarded. It is also worth pointing out that upon payment of a lump-sum alimony settlement, no further alimony payments are necessary. 

How Can a Spouse Reduce or Cease Alimony in Tennessee?

A spouse may cease or reduce alimony at some point in the future. They may only do this after a “material change in circumstance.” In other words, a major life change must occur that makes the previous agreement unsuitable. While spouses cannot change alimony agreements on a whim, these court orders are not written in stone. 

Generally speaking, life changes that affect spouses’ financial situations can justify the modification of existing alimony agreements. Examples include retirement, disabilities, termination, certain changes in the family, and so on. 

It is also worth noting that a material change in circumstance can lead to an increase in alimony installments. For example, the payor may inherit money from a deceased relative. Their income may dramatically increase, giving them the ability to contribute more in alimony payments than before. 

Find a Qualified Alimony Lawyer in Tennessee

If you are searching for an alimony lawyer in Tennessee, look no further than the Burdine Law Firm. With our assistance, you can approach the question of alimony in an efficient, confident manner. Whether you are facing the prospect of paying or receiving alimony, an effective strategy in this area can ensure positive financial results in your post-divorce life. Book your consultation today to determine the most appropriate alimony strategy based on your unique situation – and pursue genuine economic security.