TennesseeAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Tennessee Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
This is the default dialog which is useful for displaying information. The dialog window can be moved, resized and closed with the 'x' icon.
How Does an Alimony Proceeding Work?
In the state of Tennessee, during any action for divorce or legal separation, the court may award alimony to be paid by one spouse to or for the other’s benefit, or out of either spouse’s property, dependent on the circumstances of the case and the parties involved. There are many factors the court will take into consideration when deciding on alimony payments.
If the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, money, and possessions to provide for their reasonable needs, they may file for an alimony order. Other requirements are as follows: if the spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through their attainable employment or in custody of a child that is of the age or condition that the spouse with custody cannot maintain employment outside the home, or lacks the skills to earn enough to be self-sufficient.
Alimony shall be awarded in an amount and a length of time that the court judges to be fair, without taking into consideration marital misconduct, after taking into consideration all relevant factors. Factors that the court takes into consideration include the standard of living established during the relationship and marriage, the duration of the marriage, and the age, employment, and earning ability, which includes physical and emotional condition, of the spouse seeking assistance. The reverse is true of the spouse from whom assistance is being sought; their ability to maintain their living standards while making payments is also taken into considerations with the above specifications. Also, both spouses financial resources and abilities are compared when considering all other requirements. Any contribution the spouse seeking assistance has made to the other spouse’s earning ability while married is heavily considered, such as if the spouse seeking alimony had stayed home to care for their children while the other worked.
In some cases, if the spouse seeking assistance is working towards education so that their earning ability can meet the standards they require, the length of time this education would require, is taken into consideration. The court will also take into consideration any other factors they find relevant to the case in question.
If both spouses agree on the conditions of the divorce and alimony, the order may state that the terms shall not be modified. In the end, the final decision rests upon the court and judge overseeing the case.
In the state of Tennessee, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Tennessee has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.
Is marital fault considered in Tennessee alimony?
Tennessee considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that "at-fault" divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, etc, can result in the at-fault party paying more "punitive" alimony.
Is standard of living considered in Tennessee alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Tennessee. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Tennessee?
The judge in the state of Tennessee considers custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children, and custodial spouses may receive higher alimony payments.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Tennessee?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Tennessee family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Tennessee family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Tennessee family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Tennessee alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Tennessee alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Tennessee income taxes here .