When you and your spouse divorce in Tennessee, each of you will be entitled to a certain share of your assets and debts, and under most circumstances will be given equal access to your children. The one thing you are not guaranteed is alimony; spousal support is determined by a judge who has considered a number of factors. Unless you and your spouse have signed a pre-nuptial agreement or created a Marital Dissolution Agreement, wherein you discuss who will receive alimony, how much and for how long, the decision to grant or not grant spousal support lies entirely in the hands of the court.
The determining factors
When one spouse has requested alimony, the judge will look at each spouse’s:
- Earning capacity and additional sources of income
- Financial obligations, such as child support
- Assets, as divided during the divorce as well as any separate assets
- Education levels and training
- Physical health, in case one spouse is disabled
The judge will also consider the length of your marriage and your standard of living, as well as whether or not one spouse will be staying at home to take care of the children. If you filed under the ground of “fault,” the judge may take that into consideration, too.
Types of alimony
Once a judge has decided that spousal support is in order, he or she must decide which type of award to grant. In Tennessee, there are four types of alimony:
- Lump sum. A specific amount of money is awarded, which one spouse must pay to the other either all at once, or in installments. Once the obligation has been met, no more spousal support can be awarded.
- Periodic. Periodic alimony, or alimony in future, is usually awarded after a couple has been together for a long time. The judge will determine for how long one spouse must pay alimony to the other, and it usually lasts until one spouse remarries or passes away.
- Rehabilitative. This is a short-term alimony award designed to help one spouse get the education or skills training he or she needs to be able to support him or herself in the future. It helps to cover the costs associated with courses, and ends once the training or education is complete.
- Transitional. Transitional alimony is awarded to help a financially disadvantaged spouse acclimate to a one-income life. It is awarded when rehabilitative alimony cannot be. Transitional alimony can last for a short time or until the death of one of the spouses.
As a Blount County divorce lawyer, I have successfully represented clients who were seeking alimony and those faced with paying alimony, as well as those who wished to modify existing alimony awards. I understand all aspects of the process, and can help you understand them, too. Please contact my firm, Kevin W. Shepherd, Attorney at Law, to make an appointment at my office in Maryville or in Franklin.