Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a critical aspect of divorce proceedings, designed to provide financial support to a financially dependent spouse after the marriage ends. In Tennessee, like in many other states, alimony is determined based on various factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse's income and earning capacity, and their overall contribution to the marriage. However, one question that often arises is whether cheating impacts alimony awards in Tennessee. Let's delve into the complexities of this issue and explore how infidelity can influence alimony decisions in the state.
Understanding Alimony in Tennessee
Alimony in Tennessee serves to assist the lower-earning spouse in maintaining a similar standard of living to what they were accustomed to during the marriage. The court considers several factors, such as the age and health of the parties, their education and earning capacity, and their financial needs and resources. Additionally, the court examines the length of the marriage and the overall contribution of each spouse to the marriage, both financially and non-financially.
Impact of Cheating on Alimony
Tennessee is a "fault" state, meaning that fault grounds, such as adultery, can be considered in divorce proceedings. However, it's essential to understand that the courts typically focus on the economic impact of the adultery on the marriage, rather than using it as a punitive measure against the cheating spouse. In most cases, the fact that one spouse cheated will not automatically lead to a higher or lower alimony award.
Relevant Factors Considered
When it comes to determining alimony, the courts are primarily concerned with the economic situation and financial needs of both spouses. The following factors are considered in Tennessee when awarding alimony:
Economic disparity: The primary factor is the financial need of the dependent spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.
Length of the marriage: Long-term marriages generally have a higher likelihood of alimony awards.
Standard of living: The court considers the standard of living established during the marriage and aims to maintain it as closely as possible.
Education and earning capacity: The court evaluates each spouse's education, skills, and ability to earn income.
Contributions to the marriage: Both financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage are taken into account.
Other relevant factors: The court may also consider factors such as age, health, and potential tax consequences when determining alimony.
Impact of Infidelity on Alimony
In Tennessee, while infidelity itself may not be a direct factor, it can impact alimony indirectly. For instance:
Dissipation of assets: If the cheating spouse spent a significant amount of marital assets on the affair, it might be considered wasteful dissipation. This could result in the cheating spouse receiving a reduced share of the remaining marital property or a higher alimony award to the innocent spouse.
Emotional distress: Although not a direct factor, emotional distress caused by infidelity could potentially influence the court's judgment when considering other alimony-related factors.
Cohabitation: If the spouse receiving alimony enters into a supportive relationship akin to marriage, it may result in a modification or termination of alimony.
Understanding the impact of cheating on alimony in Tennessee is essential for anyone going through a divorce. By being aware of the role of fault, the potential for alimony modification, gathering evidence, and the effect of cohabitation, you can navigate this complex terrain more confidently. At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, we specialize in family law matters and are here to support you every step of the way.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us guide you towards a fair and just resolution.