Going through a divorce is a trying, challenging, and often frustrating experience. It can be hard to know what to expect, how to work through the separation process effectively, and how to adjust to this new normal. Further, many separating spouses have very real financial questions, leading them to ask, How long do you have to be married to get alimony?
In this post, the Batson Nolan PLC team helps answer common questions about receiving alimony in Tennessee. They explore the types of alimony and the factors the court uses to decide the appropriate amount and type of maintenance payments.
How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Get Alimony?
Tennessee allows a spouse to receive alimony regardless of how long the marriage lasted. That said, the total amount of the financial payments may be less for a shorter partnership than for a union lasting decades. The court considers a host of factors when calculating alimony, such as the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse, and the financial situation of each spouse.
How Is Tennessee Alimony Determined?
The amount and duration of an alimony award someone receives depends on the circumstances. Courts typically consider a list of factors when deciding what type of alimony is appropriate. These factors help the court determine how much maintenance should be paid and by whom.
When making its decision, the court analyzes the following information about the parties and the circumstances:
- The earning capacity of the spouses,
- Each spouse’s education and training,
- The length of the marriage,
- The age of each spouse,
- Each spouse’s physical and mental condition,
- Each party’s assets,
- The standard of living enjoyed by the spouse’s during the marriage, and
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage and the household.
These factors and the overall situation play a role in helping the court to decide what type of alimony is appropriate.
What Are the Types of Alimony in Tennessee?
The Tennessee alimony statute outlines the types of alimony available to an economically disadvantaged spouse during a divorce. The four types of maintenance in Tennessee include the following:
- Rehabilitative alimony,
- Alimony in futuro (or periodic alimony),
- Transitional alimony, and
- Alimony in solido (or lump sum alimony).
The Tennessee court may award one type of alimony or multiple, depending on the specific circumstances. In most cases, the court may modify the current maintenance arrangement if there is a substantial and material change in circumstances in the future.
The goal of rehabilitative alimony is to enable the economically disadvantaged spouse to achieve a post-divorce standard of living comparable to the standard they enjoyed during the marriage. In some cases, one spouse may receive alimony to help them gain the standard of living the other spouse enjoys after the divorce. The court typically chooses the length of time that a spouse will receive rehabilitative alimony.
Alimony in Futuro (Periodic Alimony)
Courts award periodic alimony for an extended period of time or until the recipient spouse dies or remarries. This type of alimony is appropriate where the court determines that it would be too difficult or impossible for the recipient spouse to achieve a standard of living economically equivalent to that which they enjoyed during the marriage. If the spouse receiving alimony dies or remarries, payments will stop. Of course, periodic maintenance payments end when the spouse paying it dies.
Transitional alimony serves to help the economically disadvantaged spouse adjust to living on their own and financially supporting themselves. In most cases, the court awards this type of maintenance for a specific period of time and does not allow the parties to modify it unless the following applies:
- Both parties agree to change it,
- The court determines that the transitional alimony should be modifiable, or
- The person receiving alimony lives with a third person (such as a parent, child, or paramour).
Transitional alimony terminates upon the death of the spouse receiving it or paying it. Further, the court may choose other events that trigger the end of the transitional alimony, such as the recipient remarrying.
Alimony in Solido (Lump Sum Alimony)
Lump sum alimony is a form of long-term maintenance arrangement and can be paid all at once or in installment payments. It is appropriate if the parties can calculate the total amount of alimony the spouse should receive. For example, lump sum alimony may be appropriate if one spouse keeps the house and the other receives an unequal amount of assets. Further, one spouse may receive an award of attorney’s fees and expenses through a lump sum alimony payment.
Lump sum alimony does not terminate upon the death or remarriage of either spouse, nor can anyone but the parties modify the arrangement.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer at Batson Nolan PLC
We understand the challenges you face during a divorce and have decades of experience helping people in your situation to navigate the legal aspects of separation successfully. Our firm has been in operation since 1860. Much has changed since then, but our team leans on our legacy of respect, integrity, and excellence in our dealings with clients.