We hear this question a lot, so before we get into specifics, here’s the short answer: none. No one is ever entitled to alimony. It is entirely up to the judge’s discretion, unless you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse work out an agreement on your own in your Marital Dissolution Agreement. However, just because you (or your spouse) will not automatically be granted alimony, doesn’t mean that you can’t make an excellent case for it.
Let’s start here when it comes to alimony: what it means, when it may be granted, and how the amounts might be calculated.
What is alimony?
Alimony is a court-ordered payment that one spouse must make to the other. It is generally granted to the spouse who makes less money.
When is alimony granted by the courts?
Every case is different, but most of the time the court will award alimony to a spouse who needs it. This might be because one spouse stayed home with the kids while the other worked outside the home, and as such, didn’t develop a skill set that can translate in today’s economy. Maybe one spouse has developed a debilitating condition that leaves him or her unable to work at all, or is entirely reliant on the other spouse in some way. There’s no set rule about when alimony will be granted, but these types of situations tend to see alimony awards.
What is alimony based on?
Alimony is based on financial need: how much the spouse can earn, how much his or her (estimated) expenses will be, and how much it will cost to keep up with the standard of living he or she is used to. It is also based on what an obligor can pay. A judge may also look at how long you and your spouse were married, or whether or not it’s better for tour kids if one spouse stays home (thus limiting the ability to work) but generally speaking, it all comes down to whether or not the spouse with less income (potential or actual) will be secure after the divorce, and whether the other spouse is able to afford support.
Different types of alimony
Under Tennessee law, there are four different types of alimony:
- Rehabilitative alimony, which is awarded for a short period of time. The spouse receiving the payments is expected to “rehabilitate” him or herself, like through schooling, relatively quickly, so the award doesn’t last that long.
- Alimony in futuro, or periodic alimony, which is normally awarded for longer marriages. It ensures that the less financially-secure spouse will be able to maintain the same standard of living he or she did while married. This is the type of alimony that can last a lifetime (though it’s rare), but most of the time it just lasts until the spouse receiving the payments gets married.
- Transitional alimony, awarded to the spouse who just needs a little help getting back up on his or her feet. Usually, the spouse who is awarded transitional alimony already has education or a skill set that will allow him or her to get work. Transitional alimony might be awarded while a couple goes through the divorce process, as opposed to other types of spousal support, which are awarded after the divorce is finalized.
- Alimony in solido, or lump sum alimony, is a set amount of money that is either paid all at once, or in installments. Once it’s done, it’s done.
Spousal support can be a little tricky, and speaking with a skilled Maryville divorce attorney from Shepherd and Associates, P.C. can make a big difference. We can help you plan for your future, and fight to ensure that you’re protected. If you have questions about the alimony you might or current receive – or might or currently pay – let us help. You can reach us at 865.225.9655, or by filling out this contact form.