The Hall Law Firm, PLC
555 Perkins Ext., Suite 455
Memphis, TN 38117
(901) 754-5150

Alimony

“Alimony” means payments for the support and maintenance of a spouse, either by lump sum or on a continuing basis. Alimony is paid by a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse.

What is alimony?

“Alimony” means payments for the support and maintenance of a spouse, either by lump sum or on a continuing basis for some length of time. Alimony is paid by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse. A dependent spouse is a spouse, whether husband or wife, who is substantially dependent upon the other spouse for maintenance and support. The amount of alimony varies.

What are alimony obligations like in Tennessee?

  1. Alimony was originally allowed in recognition of the husband’s common law liability to support his wife.
  2. Can Wives be required to pay alimony to Husbands now? Yes.
  3. How many types of alimony does Tennessee currently recognize? Four.
  4. Alimony in futuro = periodic support and maintenance according to the circumstances of the parties.
  5. Alimony in solido can be awarded from a division of property.
  6. Rehabilitative alimony can enable a spouse to achieve an earning capacity reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage or that of the other spouse.
  7. Transitional alimony can to be used to help one party “close the gap” or “adjust to the realities of the divorce.”
  8. Alimony can be awarded separately or in combination on the basis of 12 broad factors.
  9. What are the two most relevant factors? Need and ability to pay.
  10. Fault counts.

What is pendente lite spousal support?

Pendente Lite spousal support is the payment of expenses for support and maintenance of a spouse pending entry of the final decree of divorce.

Does fault count in determining alimony?

Although an alimony claimant is no longer required to prove the other spouse is at fault in order to be entitled to postseparation support or alimony, the alimony statute still retains the concept of marital fault and still permits a judge to consider evidence of fault in fixing the amount of alimony to be awarded, if any. However, fault is only one of multiple factors to be considered in an award of alimony.

What factors are reviewed in deciding an alimony claim?

To determine whether the granting of an order for payment of support and maintenance to a party is appropriate, and in determining the nature, amount, length of term and manner of payment, the Court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

  1. The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs and financial resources of each party, including income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans and other sources;
  2. The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training, and the necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such party’s earning capacity to a reasonable level;
  3. The duration of the marriage;
  4. The age and mental condition of each party;
  5. The physical condition of each party; including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic debilitating disease;
  6. The extent to which it would be undesirable for a party to seek employment outside the home because such party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage;
  7. The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
  8. The provisions made with regard to the marital property as defined by statute;
  9. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  10. The extent to which each party has made such tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as monetary and homemaker contributions and tangible and intangible contributions by a party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
  11. The relative fault of the parties in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and
  12. Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities of the parties.

Tenn. Code Ann. section 36-5-121.

What types of alimony can be awarded?

Alimony can be awarded in different ways and for varying lengths of time based upon the facts of each individual case. In general, Tennessee recognizes four types of alimony awards, as briefly described below.

  1. ALIMONY IN FUTURO: Alimony in futuro is a payment of support and maintenance on a long term basis or until death or remarriage of the recipient. It may be awarded when the court finds there is relative economic disadvantage and that rehabilitation of the disadvantaged spouse is not feasible, meaning that the disadvantaged spouse is unable to achieve, with reasonable effort, an earning capacity that will permit the spouse’s standard of living after the divorce to be reasonbly comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, or to the post-divorce standard expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties.
  2. REHABILITATIVE ALIMONY: The Tennessee Legislature has spoken through its statutory mandates that the spouse who is economically disadvantaged relative to the other spouse should be rehabilitated, whenever possible, by the granting of an order for payment of rehabilitative alimony. To be rehabilitated means to achieve, with reasonable effort, an earning capacity that will permit the economically disadvantaged spouse’s standard of living after the divorce to be reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, or to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties.
  3. TRANSITIONAL ALIMONY: Transitional alimony means a sum of money payble by one party to the other, or on behalf of the other, for a set period of time. Transitional alimony is awarded when the court finds that rehabilitation is not necessary but the economically disadvantaged spouse needs assistance to adjust to the economic consequences of a divorce, legal separation or other proceeding where spousal support may be awarded.
  4. ALIMONY IN SOLIDO: Alimony in solido is an award of a definite sum of alimony and may be paid in installations provided the payments are ordered over a definite time period and the sum of the alimony to be paid is ascertainable when awarded. This type of alimony may be used to adjust the division of the parties’ marital property, but it may also be awarded based upon the demonstrated need of an economically disadvantaged spouse.

For more specific questions about the potential for an award of alimony, please contact us to schedule a consultation.

Contact the Law Office of Karen B. Hall