When couples with a significant income disparity divorce, the higher-earning spouse often must pay alimony, or spousal support. However, spousal support is not mandatory. A divorcing spouse must ask for it and show they need the support, and the other spouse must be able to pay it.
The process for paying spousal support depends on the type of alimony the court orders. A seasoned alimony attorney could explain the Red Bank spousal support payment process in more detail during an initial meeting.
Courts award alimony to ensure that the less propertied spouse does not suffer financial hardship resulting from the divorce. In many cases, the spouses negotiate a spousal support arrangement between themselves that meets their specific needs. A Red Bank attorney could help a spouse negotiate a reasonable alimony payment agreement.
If the couple cannot agree, the financially disadvantaged spouse could ask the court to award spousal support. Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-121 authorizes judges to award one or more of the following types of alimony.
This form of spousal support is paid to the financially dependent spouse while the divorce is pending, and the couple is still married. It is also called alimony pendente lite. Its purpose is to help the spouse transition to life as a single person and establish an independent household.
Rehabilitative alimony provides spousal support while the financially disadvantaged spouse seeks further education or job training to acquire marketable skills. Rehabilitative alimony is short-term until the receiving spouse can become self-supporting.
Judges order long-term or permanent alimony, or alimony in futuro, when the dependent spouse is unlikely to become self-supporting. When a spouse is older and has been out of the workforce for years or perhaps was never employed, it is unrealistic to expect them to become self-supporting after a divorce. Similarly, if a spouse has a physical or mental health condition that prevents them from working, their former spouse might have an ongoing obligation to support them.
This form of spousal support is paid in a lump sum or in several installments. This form of alimony is less common than other forms, but couples sometimes negotiate alimony in solido to equalize marital property. For example, if the couple owned a business and one spouse continues to own and run the business, the business owner might make a large lump sum alimony payment to balance the property division. It is also a way for a spouse to cover the attorney’s fees of the other spouse.
Unlike short-term or long-term alimony, neither spouse can modify alimony in solido at a later date—the judge’s order is final. In addition, if the paying spouse dies, their estate must satisfy the obligation to the receiving spouse. If the receiving spouse dies, the paying spouse owes the obligation to the receiving spouse’s estate.
Once a Red Bank court orders alimony, it imposes a legal obligation on the paying spouse to make the payments in full and on time. The spouses could agree to an automatic payroll deduction or similar procedure to ensure the alimony is paid on time, but these arrangements are not mandatory. If the spouse receives public assistance in addition to alimony, a paying spouse might pay their spousal support to the court clerk or to a government agency.
The receiving spouse could go to court to enforce the order if the paying spouse does not provide alimony according to the court’s order. Courts have multiple remedies to force the delinquent spouse to pay. They include garnisheeing their wages or attaching their bank account.
If a spouse’s circumstances change and they can no longer afford to pay as agreed, a proactive Red Bank attorney could petition a court to modify an order for rehabilitative or permanent alimony. The law does not permit a court to modify an order for alimony in solido.
Although spousal support is not mandatory after a divorce in Tennessee, courts frequently order it if the divorce could cause financial hardship to a spouse. Alternatively, the couple could negotiate an alimony arrangement that works for them.