Divorce impacts everyone involved in the process in numerous ways. When most people think about the impact of a divorce they focus first on the emotional impact it has on the parties, the children, and even the extended family. Divorce also typically has a significant financial impact on both spouses as well as on any children of the marriage. Unfortunately, there is often a “winner” and a “loser” when it comes to the financial status of the parties post-divorce. When that is the case, the law offers a way to re-balance the scales, to some extent, through an award of alimony to be paid by one spouse to the other spouse. If you are contemplating divorce, and you foresee the likelihood of a significant financial disparity resulting from the divorce, there is a good chance that alimony will be an issue in the divorce. Only an experienced divorce attorney can offer you specific advice and guidance regarding the role alimony may play in your divorce after reviewing all the relevant facts and circumstances. In the meantime, however, a Murfreesboro divorce attorney explains the basic concept of alimony in the State of Tennessee.
The Financial Impact of Divorce
There was a time, not all that long ago, when divorce was uncommon. There were several reasons for this, including strong social and religious pressure to remain together at all costs. Another important factor in the low divorce rate was the financial consequences of a divorce. Historically, the husband worked outside the home to support the family and the wife worked inside the home raising the children and maintaining the household. For most women, this made divorce virtually impossible from a purely financial standpoint. Times have certainly changed; however, the financial inequality that results from divorce has not entirely disappeared. Consider the following facts and figures:
- A 2001 study found that women who divorce suffer significant declines in family income, even if they do subsequently remarry or cohabit. This study found that single divorced women’s median family income dropped 45 percent, while the median income of remarried or cohabiting women was 14 percent lower than before their divorce.
- The parent with custody of the children experiences a 52 percent drop in his or her household income.
- In one study, approximately 44 percent of women fell into poverty after a divorce.
- Divorcing or separating mothers are 2.83 times more likely to be in poverty than those who remain married.
Is Alimony the Answer?
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is a legal obligation one spouse has to continue financially supporting the other spouse after the marriage ends. When one party to a divorce requests alimony, the court will take numerous factors into consideration when deciding if alimony is warranted and, if so, which type of alimony to award. The State of Tennessee recognizes four types of alimony, including:
- 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 course of 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 an imbalance in the property/asset division in the divorce. For example, if the marital residence has $1 million worth of equity, but neither spouse has the ability to “buy out” the other spouse’s $500,000 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 $500,000 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 thee marriage was one of long duration where one spouse stayed home and supported the other spouse’s career.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney
If you have questions or concerns about alimony awarded as part of a divorce in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorrney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.