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Is alimony guaranteed in Tennessee divorces?

Financial stability is often a top concern for people who are getting divorced. Whether both spouses worked during a marriage or not, finances can be strained considerably when you are dividing into two separate households. Oftentimes, this economic challenge is experienced by both people fairly equally. However, if there is a great discrepancy in earning potential between divorcing spouses, alimony (or spousal support) can be ordered to level the monetary playing field.

It is crucial to note here that alimony is not guaranteed. In fact, reports state that only about 10 percent of divorce cases involved an order for spousal support in 2010, which is a dramatic drop from the 25 percent of cases involving alimony in the 1960s. This number could drop even lower if efforts by advocates for alimony reform are successful.

Spousal support is a critical resource for many people across Tennessee who are at a serious financial disadvantage when they divorce. For example, there are many men and women who give up their careers (and earning potential) to stay at home and raise the children. If they do this for several years, it can be extremely difficult to go back out and find a job to support themselves.

To address this problem, courts in Tennessee and other states have the option of ordering the higher-earning spouse to provide financial support to the disadvantaged spouse. Generally speaking, the amount and duration of alimony will be enough to allow the recipient to lead a suitable lifestyle while pursuing employment and/or training to become financially independent.

However, many people see alimony as a penalty for the higher-earning spouse and a crutch for the recipient. Further, they argue that permanent alimony, which is still an option in some other states, should no longer be an option for anyone.

Considering how contentious the debate over alimony already is, it is not surprising that many divorces often involve bitter battles over this type form of post-marital support. Whatever side of the debate you may be on, you should discuss your situation and your goals with your family law attorney.