Spousal support after a divorce, which Tennessee law calls alimony, is not mandatory in this state. If a couple leaves a marriage with roughly equal resources and earning potential, a judge could deny alimony to either party.
A court will consider ordering spousal support if the spouses have widely disparate incomes or capacity to earn. The law does not favor a spouse suffering a significantly diminished lifestyle due to a divorce. However, in most cases, spousal support will continue for only a fixed time.
If you have questions about temporary versus permanent spousal support in Red Bank, contact a local legal professional. An experienced spousal support attorney could explain how courts determine alimony and whether long-term support might be available in your specific case.
Alimony is no longer automatic when couples divorce. Many couples waive spousal support in prenuptial agreements or divorce settlements. When couples decide one spouse owes the other continuing financial support, they often limit the scope and duration of the support.
If the couple cannot agree on spousal support, a court will decide whether the less propertied spouse is entitled to alimony. The court will assess the resources the spouse will have when they leave the marriage and the expenses they will have to pay. If the court decides one spouse will need help to meet their expenses, they will investigate whether the other spouse has the means to pay support.
The judge will consider the other spouse’s resources, expenses, and obligations. If the spouse has enough income or assets, the judge will order the spouse to pay alimony to the financially disadvantaged spouse. A well-practiced Red Bank attorney could explain to a divorcing spouse how a judge calculates the spouses’ needs and resources when determining spousal support amounts and duration.
According to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-121i, one factor judges should consider when determining spousal support is whether the financially disadvantaged spouse could earn enough to preserve the standard of living they enjoyed while married. If not, the judge could award sufficient alimony to ensure the spouse does not have a markedly less comfortable lifestyle than they had before the divorce.
However, in practice, judges often design alimony awards to encourage a spouse to be self-supporting even if they cannot earn enough to provide themselves with the lifestyle their former spouse provided. A judge typically expects a spousal support recipient to make efforts to provide for themselves.
The most common type of alimony Red Bank judges award is called transitional or rehabilitative alimony. Its intention is to provide for a spouse’s basic needs while they pursue education or career training to enable them to become self-supporting. Transitional alimony is also often awarded when a spouse is the primary caregiver of children who are school-age or younger to enable them to continue to devote most of their time to the children.
Although judges often focus on encouraging self-sufficiency, in some cases doing so is not practical or fair. When a spouse has been out of the workforce for many years or suffers from a physical or mental health condition that prevents them from working, long-term or permanent alimony is possible. A knowledgeable lawyer in Red Bank could advise a spouse whether permanent alimony is likely in their specific circumstances.
Judges often award permanent alimony when a marriage has endured more than 20 years, and it is the norm when a marriage has lasted 30 or more years. The law recognizes that a spouse’s decades-long dedication to the marriage merits continuing financial support into their retirement years. Similarly, a disabled spouse could expect permanent alimony even if a marriage was of shorter duration.
Even permanent spousal support could end under some circumstances. If the recipient remarries, they are no longer entitled to receive alimony. If the recipient begins cohabitating with an intimate partner, the paying spouse could request the court terminate the alimony. The law presumes the cohabitating spouse no longer needs the support, and the burden is on the recipient to prove otherwise.
Alimony can be a fraught issue when parties divorce, with each party having legitimate concerns about being able to afford to manage a household. Courts do not automatically award alimony but often do so when one spouse exits the marriage at a financial disadvantage.
If you are trying to plan your future, it is critical to understand when courts award temporary versus permanent spousal support in Red Bank. Contact a local legal professional for guidance on these and other issues concerning divorce.