In any divorce, legal separation or separate maintenance case in Tennessee, the court may require alimony to be paid by one spouse to the other depending on the nature of the case and the circumstances of the spouses. The following are the four types of alimony in Tennessee:

Rehabilitative Alimony: the purpose of this form of alimony is to rehabilitate a spouse’s earning capability, typically because the spouse has been out of the workforce. Meaning that the spouse is able to earn enough income to enjoy a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage; or similar to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse. This can include money for the spouse to earn a degree or attend a trade school. This form of alimony will last as long as it should reasonably take to reach income goals. If the spouse receiving support can show that they have made all reasonable efforts to be rehabilitated, the amount and duration of this form of support can be adjusted.

Alimony in Futuro: also known as Periodic Alimony, is payment of support on a long-term basis, until death, or until the remarriage of the recipient spouse. This form of alimony can be awarded when a court finds that rehabilitation is not feasible and there is a relative economic disadvantage. This means that the spouse receiving the support is unable to achieve the earning capacity, with reasonable effort, necessary to enjoy a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage; or similar to the post-divorce standard of living expected to be available to the other spouse. This form of alimony may be in addition to rehabilitative alimony.

Transitional Alimony: this is alimony paid for a specific period of time. This form of alimony is awarded when the court determines that rehabilitation is not necessary, but the spouse needs assistance adjusting to divorce, legal separation, or other proceedings where support may be awarded (granting of an order of protection). This form of alimony will last as long as the supported spouse will need to adjust to the economic change brought on by divorce.

Alimony in Solido: also known as Lump Sum Alimony is for long-term support. This is not considered transitional alimony, and the amount is calculable at the date the decree is entered. Payment of alimony in solido may be paid in installments as long as the payments are ordered over a definite period of time and the amount of the alimony to be paid can be calculated at the time it is awarded. When appropriate, this form of alimony can include attorney’s fees. Unlike the other forms of alimony, this is a lump sum amount and the obligation to pay lasts until the amount is paid, regardless of whether the supported spouse remarries, dies, or lives with another person.

When determining the type of alimony to be awarded, the amount, the length of term and the manner of payment,  the court will consider all the relevant factors including the following:

    • The relative earning capacity of each spouse (including pensions, profit-sharing, retirement plans, and all other sources);
    • Each spouse’s relative education and training, each spouse’s opportunity to secure such education and training (including the ability of a spouse to secure further education and training to improve the spouse’s earning capacity to a reasonable level);
    • Years of marriage;
    • Each spouse’s age and mental condition;
    • Each spouse’s physical condition;
    • Whether a spouse should not seek employment because the spouse is the custodian of the spouse’s minor child;
    • Each spouse’s assets;
    • How the marital property was divided by the court in a divorce or separation;
    • The standard of living the spouse’s established while married;
    • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage. Such as monetary, homemaker, and a spouse’s contributions to the education, training or increased earning capacity of the other spouse;
    • The relative fault of the spouse’s; and
  • The tax consequences to each spouse (spouse paying support can deduct the payments, the spouse receiving support have to claim the support payments as income). T.C.A. § 36-5-121.

Alimony is often a complex element in a divorce or separation case. It is important that you have an experienced attorney to help protect your rights. Contact the Nashville divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Lords and Cate, PLLC for a consultation.