Examining Tennessee’s alimony laws

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2017 | Family Law | 0 comments

Among the primary concerns that many of those seeking a divorce in Knoxville may have is either whether they will be entitled to receive alimony, or whether they will be required to meet such an obligation. This no doubt comes from the assumption that the awarding of alimony is automatic in divorce cases. The fact that the Huffington Post reports that as recently as 2010, 380,000 women and 12,000 men in U.S, received such support seems to solidify this thought. Yet family courts must first consider several factors when deciding whether or not to award alimony. 

The first question that some facing the potential of paying alimony may have is what entitles the state to grant such an award. That logic can found in Section 36-5-121(c)(1) of Tennessee’s Annotated Code. Here, the expectation that couples raise children to be productive citizens of the state is established. The state goes on to recognize that in order to accomplish this, one spouse may have to dedicate him or herself to nurturing the marriage and family, while the other sees to providing financial support. Should the marriage end, it is assumed that the nurturing spouse should be entitled to enjoy the same standard of living he or she did while married. His or her sacrifice to stay home, however, may make him or her economically disadvantaged in the immediate aftermath of a divorce. 

Thus, the state offers the following four types of alimony to help such a spouse retain his or her standard of living: 

  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Transitional alimony 
  • Lump sum alimony
  • Periodic alimony

Rehabilitative, transitional and lump-sum alimony are all viewed as short-term solutions to support a spouse until he or she is able to secure gainful employment. Periodic alimony, on the other hand, may be required until the supported spouse remarries or dies.