child custody modifications attorney

Alimony Fundamentals

A divorce lawyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby addresses some of the common questions about alimony which may lead to more in-depth information at a free consultation. 

What is spousal support?  

The terms “spousal support” and “alimony” are often used interchangeably. They refer to a requirement by the Court for one spouse to pay another spouse either during or after achild custody modifications attorney divorce.  Alimony is separate from child support and property division.


What determines whether the Judge will order alimony?

First, the divorce Judge has a large degree of discretion when deciding whether to order alimony, and how much the award will be.  Alimony is one of the more difficult things to predict regarding the outcome of most divorce trials. There is no formula or calculation to follow, like in child support.  However, often the most influential factors in determining whether (and how much) alimony is awarded are: 1) the need of the spouse requesting alimony, and 2) the ability of the other spouse to pay the alimony.  Also, it is much less common, though not impossible, for the court to award alimony in a short-term marriage situation, which is normally defined as a marriage of 7 years or less.  


Is there a way to predict how much alimony will be awarded? 

Unfortunately, not really, other than having experience in the Court in which your case is filed, and an awareness of what Judges in your jurisdiction have awarded in other cases with similar circumstances.  In addition to the two most important factors described above, other factors which influence the amount and length of an alimony award are:  the length of the marriage; the age of each spouse;  the mental and physical condition of each spouse; the extent of separate (non-marital) assets available to each spouse; the extent to which each spouse contributed to the marriage, (including both financial contributions and homemaking); the extent to which each spouse contributed to the earning power or education of the other spouse; the relative fault of the parties in any case when the Court deems is it appropriate to consider this; tax consequences and other factors as determined by the Court.  We believe that the duration of a marriage is often a threshold to determine whether someone receives alimony.  As we mentioned earlier, shorter marriages tend to not be subject to alimony awards as often as longer-term marriages.  The other factors often affect the amount of alimony and the length of time a person may be ordered to pay or receive it.


My spouse has left me for another person. Will I be entitled to receive alimony or (if I’m the primary provider) not be required to pay it?  

Not necessarily.  Clients often believe that if their spouse leaves them for another person, they will either be automatically entitled to receive alimony (if they are not the primary financial provider), or that this fact will certainly relieve them of the duty to pay alimony (if they are the primary financial provider).  The reality is that “fault” (as a contributing cause for the breakup of the marriage) is often a rather minor factor in the determination of an alimony award. In fact, it is entirely at the discretion of the court whether to consider “fault” at all.  By far, the more important factors are they earning power and financial needs and obligations of each party.


I need alimony while my divorce is pending.  Is this possible? 

Yes; your judge may award a temporary amount of alimony payable while your case is pending. 


What can I do to ensure or increase the odds that the Court will meet my needs regarding paying or receiving alimony?

Alimony is, in our view, a situation in which we really encourage people to retain an experienced, high-quality divorce attorney who regularly practices in your area or county so that the attorney is familiar with the Court in which your case is filed.  Unfortunately, nothing substitutes for experience in this area so that your attorney can elicit facts which will help your case and present them to the Court in a way that will most likely result in an Order in your favor.  


Is there any way to change or stop paying alimony?  

Some types of alimony are subject to be changed and others are not.  If yours is a type of alimony which the Court may change, you can file a petition with the Court asking the Judge to modify the amount or length of alimony, or to stop it altogether based on some type of changed circumstance.  If you already have a Court order, we recommend that you take it to an attorney to determine whether your type is modifiable, and to advise you on available options. 

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about alimony, contact a divorce lawyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael