Facing the end of a marriage is never easy, nor is the legal process that follows. Understandably, most people going through a divorce focus the majority of their time and attention on the immediate issues related to the children of the marriage and/or dividing marital property and debt. It is imperative, however, to contemplate your life after divorce. Specifically, you need to consider how the divorce will impact your quality of life and financial stability. This is particularly crucial if your spouse earned the majority of the income throughout the marriage. Fortunately, the law does take into consideration the disparity of income between spouses by recognizing a spouse’s right to spousal support post-divorce. A Murfreesboro divorce attorney explains the types of spousal support to which you might be entitled after your marriage.
What Is Spousal Support?
Also referred to as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance,” spousal support is money your ex-spouse would pay to you post-divorce. Spousal support is not part of the division of marital assets nor does alimony have anything to do with child support. The purpose of alimony depends on the type awarded. Most often, spousal support is intended to provide a financial “cushion” for a limited time to a spouse after a divorce to give the spouse time to re-enter the workforce or go back to school to become more competitive in the job market. Spousal support is not part of the division of assets nor is it related to child support. For the most part, spousal support is not intended to provide financial support on an ongoing or indefinite basis. There are, however, circumstances where an ongoing or indefinite spousal support order may be warranted.
Women and Divorce
The good news is that things are finally changing with regard to the financial impact divorce has on the parties. The bad news is that things haven’t changed enough yet. Consider the following facts and figures relating to women and divorce:
- According to Forbes magazine, almost half (46%) of divorced women recently surveyed by the online marketplace Worthy said that divorce brought with it financial surprises.
- 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 Spousal Support the Solution?
Spousal support is intended to get balance the obvious inequities that frequently occur after a divorce. Alimony, however, is not guaranteed. You must convince a court that ordering spousal support is warranted. Furthermore, courts do not like to award long-term alimony and will typically only do so when the marriage is one of particularly long duration and the party seeking spousal support cannot reasonably be expected to re-enter the workforce in any meaningful way because of age and/or disability. In the State of Tennessee, you might be awarded one of the following types of spousal support:
- 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 $500,000 worth of equity, but neither spouse has the ability to “buy out” the other spouse’s $250,000 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 $250,000 is paid off.
- Alimony in futuro (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 Divorce Attorney
If you have additional questions about spousal support in a Tennessee divorce, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.