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Essentials for divorcing Tennessee spouses to understand about alimony

The Tennessee Code stipulates that one spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to provide for the other spouse.
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    January 23, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Alimony laws can vary considerably by state, as evidenced by the legal changes and attempted reforms that have launched in various states this year. Alimony laws have not changed recently in Tennessee, but people in Nashville and other parts of the state who are preparing for a divorce can still benefit from understanding how alimony laws in the state are structured.

Alimony guidelines and options

The Tennessee Code stipulates that one spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to provide for the other spouse. There are four types of alimony that can be awarded in Tennessee:
- Rehabilitative alimony, which provides temporary support while the recipient adjusts and becomes financially established.
- Alimony en futuro, or periodic alimony, which is ordered when rehabilitative alimony is not feasible and continues until the recipient dies or remarries.
- Transitional alimony, or bridge-the-gap alimony, which helps the recipient transition to being single.
- Alimony in solido, or lump sum alimony, which is paid all at one time.

It is also important for people divorcing in Tennessee to understand the limitations of alimony. In some states, the aim of alimony is to help the recipient spouse maintain the same standard of living that he or she enjoyed during the marriage, but in Tennessee, this is not exactly the case.

Limits to alimony awards

A press release on the official Tennessee courts website describes an important alimony case that was heard by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2011. A couple divorced after 21 years of marriage, and as both people had a college education and jobs that paid well, their property was divided fairly equally, with the woman being awarded a little more than half. The court declined to award alimony.

When the woman appealed the decision, the Court of Appeals ruled in her favor, awarding her periodic alimony and lump sum alimony to cover fees associated with pursuing the issue in court. However, Tennessee's Supreme Court reversed this decision, noting that it is typically more expensive for a couple to live separately, and that in most cases both spouses will have to downgrade their lifestyles to a degree. Since the woman was healthy, receiving adequate income and possessing a reasonable amount of property from the divorce settlement, alimony was not found to be necessary.

This case underscores the reason that it is important for anyone involved in a divorce to seek legal counsel when settling alimony -- or almost any issue -- during divorce proceedings. Although judicial discretion can play a large role in a divorce settlement, both couples still need to be aware of their obligations and the extent of their rights.

If you are preparing to file for divorce in Tennessee, you should make sure to speak with an attorney so that you understand what your responsibilities and options are during this difficult time.

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