The following is a summary of Tennessee alimony laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Tennessee Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Types of Alimony.

The court may award rehabilitative alimony, alimony in futuro, also known as periodic alimony, transitional alimony, or alimony in solido, also known as lump sum alimony or a combination of these.

Rehabilitative Alimony.

It is the intent of the general assembly that a spouse, who is economically disadvantaged relative to the other spouse, be rehabilitated, whenever possible, by the granting of an order for payment of rehabilitative alimony. To be rehabilitated means to achieve, with reasonable effort, an earning capacity that will permit the economically disadvantaged spouse’s standard of living after the divorce to be reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, or to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties.

An award of rehabilitative alimony shall remain in the court’s control for the duration of such award, and may be increased, decreased, terminated, extended, or otherwise modified, upon a showing of a substantial and material change in circumstances. For rehabilitative alimony to be extended beyond the term initially established by the court, or to be increased in amount, or both, the recipient of the rehabilitative alimony shall have the burden of proving that all reasonable efforts at rehabilitation have been made and have been unsuccessful.

Rehabilitative alimony shall terminate upon the death of the recipient. Rehabilitative alimony shall also terminate upon the death of the payor, unless otherwise specifically stated.

Alimony in Futuro.

Where there is relative economic disadvantage and rehabilitation is not feasible, in consideration of all relevant factors, the court may grant alimony in futuro, also known as periodic alimony, which is an order for payment of support and maintenance on a long-term basis or until death or remarriage of the recipient.

The court considers rehabilitation to be not feasible when the disadvantaged spouse is unable to achieve, with reasonable effort, an earning capacity that will permit the spouse’s standard of living after the divorce to be reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, or to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties.

An award of alimony in futuro shall remain in the court’s control for the duration of such award, and may be increased, decreased, terminated, extended, or otherwise modified, upon a showing of substantial and material change in circumstances.

In all cases where a person is receiving alimony in futuro and the alimony recipient lives with a third person, a rebuttable presumption is raised that:

  1. The third person is contributing to the support of the alimony recipient and the alimony recipient does not need the amount of support previously awarded, and the court should suspend all or part of the alimony obligation of the former spouse; or
  2. The third person is receiving support from the alimony recipient and the alimony recipient does not need the amount of alimony previously awarded and the court should suspend all or part of the alimony obligation of the former spouse.

An award for alimony in futuro shall terminate automatically and unconditionally upon the death or remarriage of the recipient. The recipient shall notify the obligor immediately upon the recipient’s remarriage. Failure of the recipient to timely give notice of the remarriage shall allow the obligor to recover all amounts paid as alimony in futuro to the recipient after the recipient’s marriage. Alimony in futuro shall also terminate upon the death of the payor, unless otherwise specifically stated.

Transitional Alimony.

Transitional alimony means a sum of money payable by one party to, or on behalf of, the other party for a determinate period of time. Transitional alimony is awarded when the court finds that rehabilitation is not necessary, but the economically disadvantaged spouse needs assistance to adjust to the economic consequences of a divorce, legal separation or other proceeding where spousal support may be awarded, such as a petition for an order of protection.

Transitional alimony shall terminate upon the death of the recipient. Transitional alimony shall also terminate upon the death of the payor, unless otherwise specifically stated in the decree.

Alimony in Solido.

Alimony in solido may be awarded in lieu of or in addition to any other alimony award, in order to provide support, including attorney fees, where appropriate. Alimony in solido, also known as lump sum alimony, is a form of long term support, the total amount of which is calculable on the date the decree is entered, but which is not designated as transitional alimony. Alimony in solido may be paid in installments; provided, that the payments are ordered over a definite period of time and the sum of the alimony to be paid is ascertainable when awarded. The purpose of this form of alimony is to provide financial support to a spouse.

-From Section §36-5-121 of the Tennessee Code.

Alimony Guidelines.

In any action for divorce, legal separation or separate maintenance, the court may award alimony to be paid by one spouse to or for the benefit of the other, or out of either spouse’s property, according to the nature of the case and the circumstances of the parties.

The general assembly finds that the contributions to the marriage as homemaker or parent are of equal dignity and importance as economic contributions to the marriage. Further, where one spouse suffers economic detriment for the benefit of the marriage, the general assembly finds that the economically disadvantaged spouse’s standard of living after the divorce should be reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage or to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse, considering the relevant statutory factors and the equities between the parties.

In determining whether the granting of an order for payment of support and maintenance to a party is appropriate, and in determining the nature, amount, length of term, and manner of payment, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

  1. The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs, and financial resources of each party, including income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans and all other sources;
  2. The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training, and the necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such party’s earnings capacity to a reasonable level;
  3. The duration of the marriage;
  4. The age and mental condition of each party;
  5. The physical condition of each party, including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic debilitating disease;
  6. The extent to which it would be undesirable for a party to seek employment outside the home, because such party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage;
  7. The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
  8. The provisions made with regard to the marital property, as defined in § 36-4-121;
  9. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  10. The extent to which each party has made such tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as monetary and homemaker contributions, and tangible and intangible contributions by a party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;
  11. The relative fault of the parties, in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and
  12. Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the affirmation, ratification and incorporation in a decree of an agreement between the parties as to support and maintenance of a party.

-From Section §36-5-121 of the Tennessee Code.

Payment of Alimony, Securing Such Payment.

To secure the obligation of one party to pay alimony to or for the benefit of the other party, the court may direct a party to designate the other party as the beneficiary of, and to pay the premiums required to maintain, any existing policies insuring the life of a party, or to purchase and pay the premiums required to maintain such new or additional life insurance designating the other party the beneficiary of the insurance, or a combination of these, as the court deems appropriate.

The order or decree of the court may provide that the payments for the support of such spouse shall be paid either to the clerk of the court or directly to the spouse, or, in Title IV-D cases, the order or decree of the court shall provide that payments shall be paid to the central collections and disbursement unit, pursuant to § 36-5-116.

-From Section §36-5-121 of the Tennessee Code.

 

This information has been summarized from the Tennessee statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Tennessee divorce statutes online here: Tennessee Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL ALIMONY LAWS.

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