Alimony Factors in Tennessee Divorce Law

If there is a trial, the judge will take evidence on each of Tennessee’s alimony factors in determining which type of alimony will be awarded, amount, and length of payments. Income & financial resources, supporting spouse’s ability to pay, education & training, years married, custodian of a minor child, standard of living of the parties, mental & physical health, property division, and marital fault.

Alimony Factors in Tennessee Divorce Law

[I]n determining whether to award spousal support and, if so, determining the nature, amount, length, and manner of payment, courts consider several factors:

(1) The relative earning capacity, obligations, needs, and financial resources of each party, including income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans and all other sources;

(2) The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunity of each party to secure such education and training, and the necessity of a party to secure further education and training to improve such party’s earnings capacity to a reasonable level;

Alimony Factors in Tennessee Divorce Law

Alimony Factors in Tennessee Divorce Law

(3) The duration of the marriage;

(4) The age and mental condition of each party;

(5) The physical condition of each party, including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic debilitating disease;

(6) The extent to which it would be undesirable for a party to seek employment outside the home, because such party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage;

(7) The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;

(8) The provisions made with regard to the marital property, as defined in § 36-4-121;

(9) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;

(10) The extent to which each party has made such tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as monetary and homemaker contributions, and tangible and intangible contributions by a party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party;

(11) The relative fault of the parties, in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and

(12) Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

Tennessee Code Ann. § 36-5-121(i).

Tennessee Alimony Factors

Tennessee Alimony Factors

Although each of these factors must be considered when relevant to the parties’ circumstances, “the two that are considered the most important are the disadvantaged spouse’s need and the obligor spouse’s ability to pay.”  Carefully adhering to the statutory framework for awarding spousal support, both in terms of awarding the correct type of support and for an appropriate amount and time, fulfills not only the statutory directives but also alimony’s fundamental purpose of eliminating spousal dependency where possible.

From the Supreme Court of Tennessee’s landmark alimony case in 2011, Gonsewsky.  Citations omitted.

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