Alimony can spark all sorts of negative feelings and confrontational debates among divorcing couples. In an already tumultuous time, discussing alimony can transform your negotiation or litigation into an acrimonious affair. One spouse feels entitled to the extra financial support, while the other does not see the need to part with his or her hard-earned dollars.

Without understanding the basics of how alimony in Tennessee works, you might become trapped and disadvantaged in this scenario.

Before you head to court, make sure that you are fully prepared with all of the information you need about alimony in Tennessee. When you are aware of your rights, your attorney can help you make better decisions.

This article covers the basic facts you need to know about alimony in Tennessee.

Basics of Alimony

Alimony payments refer to money given by one spouse to the other, which help financially support them after the divorce is finalized. These funds can be transferred for a multitude of reasons, but one reason is always because the receiving spouse is disadvantaged in some way.

The general term for these payments is alimony. However, different types of alimony payments can be ordered in Tennessee:

  • Rehabilitative Alimony comes into effect when one spouse has been out of work for a long period of time. This spouse may have opted to be a stay-at-home parent or to take care of the house while the other spouse worked longer hours. His or her sacrifice led the working spouse to further his or her career and become a much higher earner. Rehabilitative alimony can be put in place to allow this spouse to go back to school or receive further training, in order to earn more money.
  • Transitional Alimony gives one spouse a little financial breathing room while he or she is adjusting to living a single lifestyle. This spouse may not need more schooling or training to obtain a job. However, he or she does need a small amount of financial support for a set period of time.
  • Periodic Alimony is sometimes referred to as alimony in futuro. This type of payment is often ordered when one spouse is incapable of returning to school, working full-time, or financially taking care of himself or herself. In most cases, periodic alimony will only be granted to long-term marriages. It may be issued in addition to rehabilitative alimony.
  • Lump Sum Alimony is sometimes referred to as alimony in solido. It is a long-term payment. It is designed to offer financial support to the receiving spouse over a set period of time. The judge will calculate the total amount of support that the spouse is entitled to, then divide it into installments over a set period of time.
  • Temporary Alimony might not be an indicator of the permanent alimony that you will receive. However, it should help offset the sudden financial need sparked by the pending divorce.

All divorces will not qualify for any of these alimony types. The judge will have to take a comprehensive look at the marriage, each spouse, and the finances that each one has available before deciding if any of these types of alimony will apply.

Factors for Alimony Payments

A judge has to take a look at the bigger picture of your marriage, in order to determine if alimony should even be on the table. He or she must take a look at your finances, your work history, and even your health, in order to determine if one of you could be entitled to financial support by the other spouse. All of the financial needs in the marriage could add up to a realistic picture.

Here are a few of the factors that a judge will consider:

  • Income and earning ability of each spouse
  • Assets and financial resources of each spouse
  • Division of assets and property in the divorce settlement
  • Training and education of each spouse
  • Age and health conditions of each spouse
  • Consideration of any physical, mental, or emotional disabilities
  • Length of the marriage and standard of living during that marriage
  • Custody of any children from this marriage, or a previous one that would prevent one spouse from working full-time
  • Contributions of each spouse to the marriage (including as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent)
  • Tax benefits or consequences that alimony could bring
  • The fault(s) of either party (such as infidelity)

Both spouses must be fully evaluated about what they brought to the marriage, and what they can do for themselves after the divorce. Some individuals attempt to take lower-paying jobs to reduce their income and avoid making alimony payments to a former spouse. However, this impact may not have the desired effect.

Earning less than your potential is not favorably viewed by the court, particularly if it is seen as a way to skirt your financial obligation to a spouse. All assets and income potential must be considered, in order to paint the clearest picture of financial stability.

If you believe that your spouse is misrepresenting his or her skill set before the judge, you can request a formal and objective evaluation of his or her employability. This analysis might be one way to get out of paying rehabilitative alimony, if you know that your spouse can earn more than he or she currently is, given his or her degree or training.

One of the other major factors for determining alimony is the cause of divorce. Marital misconduct will often play a role in whether you can be granted alimony payments. For example, adultery could be the main cause of your divorce. If so, you would not be eligible for alimony payments if you were the spouse who had the extramarital affair. The other spouse may still be entitled to these payments.

Keep in mind that you may be required to provide proof that your spouse had an affair. Therefore, you may have to submit email exchanges, pictures, voicemails, and phone records. For many individuals, providing this information is emotionally painful and difficult

You may want to enlist the help of a professional therapist or counselor to process these emotions before your court date. By doing so, you may find that you feel much more emotionally stable and equipped to handle the pending stress.

Alimony Calculations

There is no set formula to calculate payment amounts for alimony in Tennessee. The specific payment amount will depend on the financial need of each spouse, as well as the amount of money that is available between the two spouses. You cannot make a payment from money that does not exist. In addition, the judge has to weigh all of the various factors, including child support payments.

Tax implications are major considerations for judges who are considering alimony payments during a divorce proceeding. The paying spouse can write them off as tax deductions, which could put them into lower tax brackets. This single, financially savvy move could save them thousands on their tax liability at the end of the year.

However, the receiving spouse must list alimony payments as taxable income. This tactic can raise a spouse’s tax liability if it bumps him or her into a higher tax bracket.

Alimony Payment Duration

Once you determine that your spouse might be eligible to receive alimony payments, you will want to know how long they last. The duration of your alimony payments depends on the type of alimony that your former partner would be entitled to receive. Many of them have set end dates, which make it very clear when your obligation will end.

However, these dates will be set by the judge, based on your unique circumstances and the financial need of your former spouse. You may even be able to modify those dates, depending on the situation.

Marriage length often determines the length of time that you will receive alimony payments. Longer marriages tend to elicit alimony payments that last for years, whereas shorter marriages may only receive months of alimony. There are exceptions to that guideline, but it is a general rule of thumb that many courts will use.

Rehabilitative alimony will last for the anticipated length of time of your spouse’s new training. It should also allow some time for them to look for a new job that would enable them to earn a decent living. Originally, rehabilitative alimony will have an end date on it, but it can be modified.

If the spouse has shown true efforts toward rehabilitating themselves but has yet to secure a job, then the judge may opt to extend the alimony payments. Alternatively, the payments can end early if you can prove that your spouse is rehabilitated in advance of the anticipated schedule.

Transitional alimony has a specific end date, which the court estimates should give them enough time to adjust to single life. It does end if the paying spouse dies, unless otherwise noted. However, it also ends or can be modified if they begin living with a new romantic partner or get remarried.

Periodic alimony is issued for the long haul, which means that your end date may not be anywhere in sight. Remember to keep up with your former spouse, in order to help these payments end faster. Whenever he or she begins living with a new romantic partner or gets remarried, you can file for the periodic alimony payments to be modified or ended.

Lump sum alimony has many different rules than the other types of alimony. For example, this variety does not get changed when the former spouse gets remarried or moves in with a romantic partner. In fact, the payments do not even stop if the paying spouse passes away. The lump sum payments must continue until the total obligation is paid off, even if the spouse is no longer alive to do so.

Know the Facts about Alimony in Tennessee

Alimony battles have the potential to be extraordinarily long and taxing. You may have many arguments about marital finances, and about who is entitled to alimony payments.

Therefore, It can help to know which factors influence a court’s decision about ordering these payments to one spouse. When you know your rights and the way that the court thinks about information, you will have a much easier time presenting your case.

If you think that your spouse might request alimony during your proceedings, it is best to start thinking through what you need to do right now. Consult with your attorney, in order to determine the information you need to gather that will protect your financial interests.

With all of the information that you need to know about alimony in Tennessee, you have a great starting point for your next meeting.