How is spousal support or alimony determined in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Property Division |

Financial matters are often the biggest challenge that people must address when pursuing divorces in Tennessee. For some couples, disagreements center on their shared assets or debts. Both spouses might want to continue living in the marital home, for example. In other cases, financial support for one spouse might be the biggest source of disagreement.

Spousal support, or alimony as state law calls it, involves either a lump-sum payment or regular monthly payments made by one spouse to another. Alimony can help someone cover their cost-of-living expenses while they rejoin the workforce or otherwise maintain their standard of living after their divorce. How do couples in Tennessee determine the amount and duration of alimony?

Many factors influence alimony obligations

Tennessee state law recognizes that it is common for one spouse to make personal career sacrifices for the benefit of the entire family unit. Someone who is a stay-at-home parent or a part-time worker typically has less earning potential than someone who remains focused on their career for decades.

The courts will consider the current and likely future earning potential of each spouse when responding to an alimony request. They look at whether someone can reenter the workforce and if they are capable of earning a competitive wage. They will also consider the separate property that each spouse will retain after the divorce and the standard of living during the marriage.

The ability of one spouse to pay and the nature of the needs of the other spouse are also considerations.  Even the length of the marriage can directly influence how much alimony one spouse must pay the other and how long that alimony will last. A judge will consider all of these factors and more when deciding how much alimony to order and how long payments will last.

Spouses can agree to their own terms

Letting a judge make major financial decisions can be uncomfortable and disempowering. People don’t like having someone else make decisions that could drastically affect their quality of life for years to come. Tennessee spouses usually have the option of reaching their own agreement regarding alimony and then submitting that to the courts for approval.

Ultimately, seeking legal guidance to better understand how the courts establish alimony responsibilities in Tennessee may help people better estimate what they can expect as they prepare for divorce.