Chattanooga Alimony Lawyer
Experienced Alimony Representation in Tennessee
When facing divorce, spousal support/alimony is often one of the most significant factors couples need to negotiate. At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our experienced Chattanooga alimony attorneys recognize your concerns regarding alimony, and we can help you understand your rights and obligations in your Tennessee divorce.
With nearly 40 combined years of legal experience, alimony attorneys Amelia Roberts and Lisa Conner understand the legal and emotional challenges you may be facing in your divorce. While alimony is not mandatory in divorce settlements in Tennessee, it is often a negotiated aspect of many divorce settlements.
Call Conner & Roberts, PLLC, today at (423) 299-4489 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our alimony attorney in Chattanooga!
What is Alimony?
Alimony is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to the other, typically during a divorce. It is intended to help the receiving spouse maintain their standard of living after the divorce and can be ordered in various forms. Alimony is typically determined by a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each party, and the earning capacity of each party. Additionally, alimony is intended to be temporary and is typically paid for a set period of time.
At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our experienced Chattanooga alimony lawyers are here to help with all your alimony needs. We understand that divorce can be difficult, and we are here to help make it easier.
What Is Alimony Based On?
In Tennessee, alimony, or spousal support, is a legal provision designed to provide financial assistance to a spouse following a divorce or legal separation. The determination of alimony is based on several factors outlined in the Tennessee Code Annotated. The primary factors considered for awarding alimony in Tennessee include the following:
- Relative Income and Earning Capacity: The court assesses both spouses' earning capacity, financial resources, and income potential. This includes evaluating education, job skills, employment history, and potential differences in future earning abilities.
- Length of Marriage: The duration of the marriage is an important consideration. Longer marriages are more likely to result in alimony awards, as there's often a greater interdependence between spouses' finances.
- Standard of Living: The court considers the lifestyle established during the marriage as alimony and aims to help the recipient maintain a standard of living similar to what they were accustomed to during the marriage.
- Age and Health: Both spouses' physical and emotional well-being is evaluated. Factors such as age, health conditions, and disabilities can impact the ability to earn a living.
- Contributions to the Marriage: Non-financial contributions, such as homemaking and childcare responsibilities, are considered when determining alimony.
- Property and Assets: The distribution of marital property can affect the need for alimony. If one spouse receives a substantial share of assets, it might impact the alimony award.
- Fault Grounds: While Tennessee is a "no-fault" divorce state, the court may consider marital misconduct or fault if it significantly impacted the economic circumstances of either spouse.
- Custodial Arrangements: Child custody arrangements may influence alimony decisions, particularly if the custodial parent needs support to care for the children.
Tennessee courts have a degree of discretion when awarding alimony, allowing for tailored decisions that reflect the unique circumstances of each case. Whether alimony is temporary, rehabilitative, or long-term, its purpose is to ensure fairness and equity in the financial aftermath of divorce. Consulting with an experienced Tennessee alimony attorney can help individuals understand the specific factors relevant to their situation and guide them through the alimony determination process.
Types of Alimony in Tennessee
While all sorts of alimony are meant to help individuals maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to throughout the marriage, not all spousal alimony is the same. Understanding the various types of spousal support that might be readily available is essential to navigating the divorce process.
- Temporary Alimony: Temporary alimony or "pendente lite" is a monetary award that lasts throughout the divorce process. When the judgment of divorce is entered, this type of alimony will no longer be effective. If the couple agrees on a temporary alimony amount during this time, it must be presented in an authorized contract for tax objectives to guarantee that the paying spouse does not change his/her mind.
- Short-Term Alimony: Most courts expect both partners to eventually become financially independent within a sensible time after a divorce. Because of this, courts frequently approve short-term alimony. Short-term alimony is intended to allow people to modify economically after a divorce.
- Rehabilitative support: This is temporary alimony aimed at sealing the gap until the monetarily dependent person in the marriage can reenter the labor force. People completing training programs or acquiring education and learning to return to work can get rehabilitative support during the divorce. However, if the former spouse thinks the recipient is not diligently pursuing the required training or education, he or she may ask the court to end or lower the agreed amount.
- Long-Term Alimony: When one spouse has shown that they cannot become financially independent due to age, disability, or health problems, a court may award permanent or long-term alimony. This type of alimony may also be awarded when the divorce results in the living requirements of the partners being "unconscionably desperate." When the recipient of permanent support remarries or dies, the alimony agreement finishes.
- Lump Sum Alimony: In rare cases, one spouse might get a lump sum payment instead of an award of residential or commercial property or other assets gathered during the marriage. Short-term or long-term alimony will not be awarded in addition to this sort of alimony. This is normally done by agreement, not ordered by the court.
How is Alimony Calculated in Tennessee?
Calculating alimony in Tennessee involves a nuanced process guided by state law and the specific circumstances of divorcing spouses. Unlike some states with strict formulas, Tennessee grants judges discretion in determining alimony based on various factors. Here's an overview of the steps involved:
- Assess Relevant Factors: Tennessee law outlines factors such as relative income, earning capacity, standard of living, duration of the marriage, and more. These factors guide the court's decision.
- Gather Financial Information: Both spouses provide financial disclosures, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. This information aids the court in assessing the financial situation of each party.
- Identify Need and Ability to Pay: The court evaluates whether one spouse requires financial assistance (need) and whether the other spouse can provide such support (ability to pay).
- Consider Marital Misconduct: While Tennessee is a no-fault divorce state, fault grounds can be considered in alimony decisions if they significantly impact financial circumstances.
- Determine Type of Alimony: The court may award different types of alimony, such as rehabilitative, transitional, periodic, or future (long-term). The purpose and duration of the alimony affect its calculation.
- Use Discretion: Judges can balance the various factors and decide on a reasonable alimony amount. There's no strict formula, making each case unique.
- Modification and Termination: Alimony can be modified or terminated based on changes in circumstances, such as job loss, remarriage, or substantial changes in income.
- Consult an Experienced Tennessee Alimony Attorney: Given the complexity of alimony calculations in Tennessee, seeking advice from a knowledgeable family law attorney is crucial. An attorney can guide you through the process, help you present your case effectively, and protect your rights.
Due to the multifaceted nature of alimony calculations in Tennessee, it's essential to approach the process with a solid understanding of the relevant factors and with legal expertise to navigate the complexities of the law.
How Many Years Do You Have to Be Married to Get Alimony?
No minimum length of time is required for alimony to be awarded in Tennessee. Even if the marriage did not last very long, alimony could still be awarded if one spouse is unemployed and needs financial assistance.
How Long Does Alimony Last in Tennessee?
The judge will determine the duration of alimony, typically based on the length of the marriage. The alimony payments may end once the supported spouse remarries. Judges may also award permanent alimony, depending on the situation.
Can I Modify My Alimony Order?
Spousal support orders are not meant to remain the same forever. Many circumstances in life may require a modification. For example, if a spouse became unemployed or disabled and can no longer work, these are valid reasons that may warrant modifying your spousal support order.
If you are on somewhat good terms with your former spouse, consider discussing a modification before taking the matter to court. If you can reach an agreement, you can save yourself some time and unnecessary frustration. However, you must still have the modification approved by the court to avoid running into any legal problems if your spouse has a change of heart.
How to Petition the Court for an Alimony Modification
Generally, a judge will only consider such a request if the circumstances change substantially.
Below are some circumstances in which you may have your spousal support order modified:
- One spouse's income substantially changes
- One spouse involuntarily loses a job or gets demoted
- The receiving spouse remarries or lives with a new romantic partner
- A cost of living increase
If you voluntarily quit your job and try to petition the court for a reduction of your spousal support order, it is unlikely a judge will grant this request. You will still have to fulfill your obligations if you try to avoid making these payments by leaving your job.
Temporary Modifications of Alimony Order
If the change in circumstances is only temporary, the modification may also be temporary. For example, if one spouse becomes unemployed, the modification may only last until he or she finds a new job. However, you must petition the court as soon as possible. You cannot simply stop paying alimony.
Contact Our Chattanooga Alimony Attorney Today
Our Chattanooga alimony lawyer will work with you to determine whether alimony is needed in your case and what type of alimony will best address your needs or the needs of your former spouse. We want to help you create reasonable yet realistic support goals that can be achieved in your case. At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our family law team is backed by more than 40 years of experience. You can rely on our skilled Chattanooga attorneys to help you achieve your desired results.
Contact Conner & Roberts, PLLC, today to schedule a meeting with our alimony lawyer in Chattanooga!
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