How is Tennessee alimony determined?
The courts in Tennessee are directed by two primary sources of law.
The first is statutory law created by the Tennessee Legislature. These are the statutes that define the four types of alimony, which help direct courts as to when alimony should be paid, the length of the payments, how much the payments should be, the circumstances in which alimony can be modified, and whether or not the alimony will terminate automatically or be eliminated by application to the court.
The second is Tennessee “case law”. Case law is a term used to describe the decisional body of law created by Tennessee’s courts when interpreting the statutes.
When the court makes a decision, a written legal opinion is issued. Some of the opinions are published and have an effect on trial courts. Meanwhile, others are not published. Some decisions are memorandum opinions, designated as such because they have no binding legal effect but are often instructive. Lawyers and judges consult legal opinions for guidance, interpretation, and explanation. It is all in the details, and these appellate opinions contain the important details on how alimony works in Tennessee.
What factors will the court consider in determining Tennessee alimony?
Tennessee factors for alimony are the following:
(i) In determining whether the granting of an order for payment of support and maintenance to a party is appropriate, and in determining the nature, amount, length of term, and manner of payment, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
- 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;
- 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;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and mental condition of each party;
- The physical condition of each party, including, but not limited to, physical disability or incapacity due to a chronic debilitating disease;
- 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;
- The separate assets of each party, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
- The provisions made with regard to the marital property, as defined in § 36-4-121;
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
- 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;
- The relative fault of the parties, in cases where the court, in its discretion, deems it appropriate to do so; and
- Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
With that being said, everything is considered when it comes to alimony. Appeals courts will often say that need and ability to pay are the two most important factors that they consider.