Alimony is one of the more controversial subjects in divorce law. Many people who are going through a divorce are eager to cut ties with their ex, and they resent the continued obligation and dependency that alimony implies. Still, alimony can be an important way to help people get back on their feet after they have been financially disadvantaged in a divorce.
Tennessee requires divorcing spouses to divide all their marital property in a way that meets guidelines of fairness under state law. A well-crafted property division agreement can go a long way toward ensuring each spouse gets a fair deal, but there are some cases in which property division alone cannot reach a settlement that meets the state guidelines.
For example, imagine a marriage where one spouse dropped out of college to stay home with the couple’s children. The other spouse graduated and went on to have a lucrative career which supported the whole family. When this couple divorces, the stay-at-home spouse could get a larger share of the marital property, but this won’t take care of the problem of unequal income. The working spouse can continue earning a high salary, while the college-dropout, stay-at-home spouse will have a hard time finding a job that will support them at anything like the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. Alimony can help correct this type of uneven result.
Types of alimony
Tennessee recognizes four main categories of alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to tide over the disadvantaged spouse until they are able to earn sufficient income to live at the standard they enjoyed during the marriage. Periodic alimony is a longer-term type that applies in situations where the disadvantaged spouse would never be able to reach that standard on their own. Transitional alimony is a temporary type that applies for a certain amount of time or until certain conditions are met. Lump sum alimony refers to an arrangement where the paying spouse is able to pay the total alimony amount in a lump sum at once or in installments.
Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages for both payors and payees. Those who are beginning the divorce process can speak to an experienced family law attorney about their options.