When a marriage ends in divorce, the parties often end up with a significant change in their financial circumstances post-divorce. One party may be considerable worse off while the other party enjoys a noticeable improvement in their financial circumstances. Until relatively recently, that meant that women lost, and men gained when it came to the financial fallout from a divorce. More and more often, however, it is the other way around. A Murfreesboro family law lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains that men may even be entitled to alimony in a Tennessee divorce.
Why Are Men Not Receiving Alimony?
Most state laws, including those in Tennessee, have not made eligibility for alimony related to the sex of the party requesting it for decades – if they ever did. In fact, Tennessee Code 36-5-121 specifically enumerates factors that a court may consider when deciding whether to award alimony – and the sex/gender of the party requesting alimony is nowhere on the this.
Historically, however, the overwhelming majority of alimony recipients have been women. A Forbes article from 2014 indicated that of the 400,000 people in the United States receiving post-divorce spousal maintenance, just three percent were men despite the fact that 40 percent of households were headed by female breadwinners. Households in which the female is the primary breadwinner are now even more common, yet men are still not requesting alimony in high numbers.
The only explanation for the seemingly incongruent figures relating to income and alimony is that men often feel there is a stigma attached to asking for money from your soon-to-be or former ex-wife. What men need to realize is that alimony is intended to address the financial disparity that so often follows a divorce. Therefore, if you are a man and your spouse earns considerably more than you, alimony should be a consideration if you decide to end the marriage.
Types of Alimony in Tennessee
Another common reason men tend not to consider requesting alimony in a divorce is the misconception that accepting alimony means you will be living off your former spouse forever. While it is possible to receive alimony for an indefinite period of time, that is not the goal nor the norm. As you can see from the following explanations, most types of alimony are tailored to meet the short term needs of a spouse post-divorce:
- Rehabilitative alimony. Intended to help a spouse re-enter the workforce or return to school to receive more education that will ultimately result in the spouse increasing his/her earning potential/capacity to allow the spouse to enjoy a similar standard of living to that enjoyed during the marriage.
- Transitional alimony. Paid for a short period of time when one spouse doesn’t need rehabilitative alimony but needs assistance to adjust to new financial circumstances following the divorce.
- Alimony in solido (lump sum alimony). Used when there is in imbalance in the property/asset division in the divorce. For example, if the marital residence has $200,000 worth of equity, but neither spouse can “buy out” the other spouse’s $100,000 share of that equity during the divorce, the court might order the spouse who remains in the home to pay the other spouse alimony in solido on a monthly basis until the $100,000 is paid off.
- Alimony in future (periodic alimony). Alimony paid over a long period of time to a spouse who, even with additional education or training, will be unable to earn enough to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. This usually applies when the marriage was one of long duration where one spouse stayed home and supported the other spouse’s career.
Contact a Murfreesboro Family Law Lawyer
If you are a man who is contemplating divorce in Tennessee and you are concerned about how your post-divorce financial picture will look, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro family law lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.