Understanding Alimony in Tennessee

Maintaining standards of living after divorce

In the past, it was common for a spouse to remain in a bad marriage simply because he or she would not be able to be self-supporting after a divorce. The concept of alimony is designed to alleviate this concern by giving the financially disadvantaged spouse a source of income while he or she acclimates to single life. However spousal support also can be a contentious issue, and many obligor spouses resent having to pay it. As a result, negotiating the alimony portion of a divorce settlement takes finesse, experience and a willingness to go to court if necessary to get a fair result. At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, we have seen firsthand how courts treat alimony issues and use that knowledge to great effect during negotiation, mediation and litigation.

Who can get alimony?

It is important to understand that alimony is not a given. A spouse must specifically ask for it and even then, it is only granted in certain circumstances. It is usually only a realistic option in cases in which one spouse earns substantially less than the other or decided to forego a career altogether. A form of spousal support may also be available to make up for disparities in property division. In either case, alimony is rarely permanent and may be adjusted or discontinued as the circumstances change.

How is alimony computed?

While some states have specific formulaic guidelines for spousal support, the laws of Tennessee largely leave it to the discretion of the court. The parties may set alimony in advance through a binding pre- or postnuptial agreement.  However, that is rarely done in Tennessee. If they do not and cannot otherwise agree on an amount through negotiation or mediation, it falls to the court to set the amount based on a number of factors, including the following:

  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and condition of each spouse
  • The custody arrangement
  • The separate property of each spouse
  • The allocation of the marital estate
  • The contributions each has made to the marriage
  • The allocation of fault in the divorce
  • Tax consequences

Because these factors are so subjective, the court’s treatment of alimony can be unpredictable — at least more so than other divorce issues. It takes lawyers with practical experience litigating support issues in the Nashville and surrounding counties’ courts to help you understand the likely outcomes, stake out a negotiating position and ultimately decide whether to go to court over that issue.

Call us to understand your position regarding support

Our attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC have the firsthand experience necessary to help resolve your alimony issues. On Woodland Street in historic Edgefield, our Nashville office is within sight of the courthouse with easy access to free parking. Call us today at 615-391-4200 or contact us online to schedule an in-person or video consultation with an experienced attorney.