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Alimony in Tennessee: part I

In many marriages, one spouse makes more money than the other. A spouse's disparity in income may be attributable to many factors including years spent out of the workforce while caring for children and putting one's own educational or career aspirations on hold to help support those of a spouse. When it comes to matters related to divorce and alimony, these types of factors must be taken into consideration.

In this two-part post, we'll discuss how alimony works in Tennessee including the types of alimony that may be awarded in a divorce as well as factors a court considers when making the decision of whether or not to award alimony.

In cases where a divorcing spouse is seeking alimony, the court will consider numerous factors including the length of the marriage, the age and mental and physical health of each spouse, the incomes and earning potential of each spouse, individual financial or other contributions of each spouse during the marriage and the provisions of an existing child custody agreement.

Should a Tennessee court deem a divorcing spouse as economically disadvantaged, one or more of four different types of alimony may be awarded: rehabilitative, transitional, in future and solid.

Rehabilitative alimony is one of the most widely accepted types of spousal support and is meant to provide financial assistance to an ex-spouse while he or she pursues "education or training to achieve the standard of living of the other spouse." While the duration of rehabilitative alimony payments may be extended, such payments can also be terminated and are meant as a short-term solution to help bridge income inequities between ex-spouses.

Even divorcees whose earnings may be on par with that of an ex-spouse may suffer financial setbacks in the wake of a divorce. In such cases, transitional alimony may be awarded to aid a recent divorcee in adjusting to the financial burdens that may result from living on one's own and paying for expenses that were previously afforded on two incomes. Transitional alimony is meant to help a divorcee get back on his or her feet financially and cannot be extended or modified.

In our next post we'll continue to discuss the types of alimony in Tennessee including those that provide for long-term alimony solutions.

Source: Tennessee Bar Association, "You’ve Come a Long Way, Alimony," Amy Amundsen and Mary Wagner, June 30, 2012