DETERMINED REPRESENTATION TO PROTECT YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE
A divorce disrupts a couple’s financial planning and forces them to re-evaluate how they are going to make ends meet, now and in the future. In many divorces, the issue of alimony arises because one spouse is not prepared to live independently. Without alimony, divorce could unjustly enrich a high-earning spouse while reducing a dependent spouse to severe financial hardship. On the other hand, excessive alimony could unfairly punish the paying spouse while giving a windfall to the recipient. At WalshLaw, I fight on behalf of my clients for fair alimony awards that fit their financial situations. For more than 15 years, I have provided zealous advocacy to safeguard my clients’ financial future. If you are going through a divorce, I’m ready to fight for you.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ALIMONY AVAILABLE IN TENNESSEE
In general, alimony is an order for one spouse to pay support to another. However, the court can take into account a variety of circumstances to award support for various purposes:
- Pendente lite sometimes called temporary spousal support, is often awarded upon request to a financially dependent spouse during the divorce process. This form of support can include reasonable amounts for attorney fees. Pendente lite terminates when the divorce becomes final.
- Transitional alimony — This is also temporary support, but payments may continue after the divorce is finalized and continue for a set period of time. The goal is to allow a dependent spouse time to become self-sufficient. The duration of transitional alimony is at the court’s discretion, but one benchmark is half the duration of the marriage. So, for a marriage of eight years, a spouse might receive four years of transitional alimony. Transitional alimony can only be modified under limited circumstances. This alimony terminates automatically upon the death of the recipient or upon the death of the payer, unless the order specifically states otherwise.
- Rehabilitative alimony — The purpose of this form of support is to allow a dependent spouse to gain education or job training necessary to become self-supporting. This form of alimony terminates upon the death of either spouse, unless the court orders contingencies for the death of the payer. Rehabilitative alimony can be increased, decreased, extended or terminated by the court at any time depending on the circumstances. It terminates automatically upon the death of the recipient or upon the death of the payer, unless the order specifically states otherwise.
- Alimony in futuro — Also called permanent or periodic alimony, this is long-term or lifetime support, terminating upon the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. Generally this type of support is reserved for marriages of great length and cases where a spouse cannot be expected to become self-supporting by virtue of poor health or otherwise. Alimony in futuro can be modified but terminates automatically upon the death or remarriage of the recipient or upon the death of the payer, unless the order specifically states otherwise.
- Alimony in solido — This is a lump-sum payment meant as long-term support. Courts sometimes order this type of alimony as reimbursement for the recipient spouse’s contributions to the other spouse’s education. If the lump sum is substantial, the court can allow payment in regular installments, usually monthly. This form of alimony cannot be modified and does not terminate on the death of the payer.
The court can order a combination of these types of alimony as appropriate. An alimony order has the force of law behind it, so a willful failure to pay subjects the supporting spouse to any number of enforcement actions, including jail for contempt of court.
STATUTORY FACTORS FOR DETERMINING THE AMOUNT AND DURATION OF ALIMONY
Tennessee Code § 36-5-121 lists 12 factors that courts must consider when making an alimony decision. These include:
- The relative earning capacity and financial resources of each party
- The relative education and training of each party
- The duration of the marriage
- Each party’s age, physical health and mental condition
- A party’s duties as the primary custodian of a minor child of the marriage
- Each party’s separate assets
- The way marital property was divided
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
- Each party’s tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage and to the other party’s education and earning power
- The relative fault of the parties for the divorce
You will notice Fault comes last, and may or may not matter one bit. The bottom line on alimony usally comes down to two contested factors: one spouse's financial need and the other spouse's ability to pay. Whether you want to avoid paying alimony or maximize the amount you receive, you must have an attorney who can make a compelling presentation to the court, highlighting all pertinent facts and applying them cogently to the relevant factors, while sticking to the bottom line.
Contact my Nashville, TN office for an alimony consultation
If you are going through a divorce, alimony is one of the most important factors impacting your financial future. WalshLaw provides honest counsel and zealous advocacy in pursuit of fair alimony orders. To schedule a consultation, call 615-915-0760 or contact my Nashville office online. My office is located at 4535 Harding Pike, just west of White Bridge Pike and Woodmont Boulevard.