Tennessee Alimony Laws and Guidelines: All About Spousal Support in “TN”

The alimony laws governing spousal support in Tennessee is different from what is obtainable in other states. Read further to grasp the peculiarity of the TN alimony law.

Also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” in Volunteer State, alimony is the series of payments made by one spouse (the payor spouse) to another (the supported or payee spouse) after the divorce.

Before the alimony payments commence, there has to be a written order or agreement which requires the payor to support the payee with a stipulated amount of money.

This agreement eliminates any disputes in the future about why the payment was made or when it’s not made.

All 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.

Type of Alimony Laws Practiced in TN

types of alimony

Types of alimony in Tennessee

In Tennessee, judges can order 4 types of alimony, including rehabilitative and Transitional alimony as well as Alimony in Futuro and Alimony in Solido, or a combination of these. These are embedded in the Tennessee Code, Title, Section 36-5-101, et seq. (Alimony and Child Support)

Rehabilitative Alimony in Tennessee

The goal of rehabilitative alimony is to give a spouse the chance to increase their earning potential by attending school, getting job training, or learning other important skills that will help them find a job and achieve financial independence.

Even though complete financial independence may not be feasible, the primary objective is for the assisted spouse to be rehabilitated to the point where he or she can establish a standard of living that is as close as possible to the marital standard. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(e).)

Alimony in Futuro (Periodic Alimony) in TN

Alimony in Futuro is a long-term (and possibly permanent) support decree that is suitable when the supported spouse cannot earn enough to sustain themselves.

For instance, when a spouse quit work to raise a family and is now disabled and unable to work, attend school, or learn vital job skills to find work, a court may award alimony in Futuro. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121 (f).)

Transitional Alimony in Tennessee

In circumstances where a supported spouse does not require rehabilitation but requires financial assistance while transitioning to a new post-divorce living standard, the judge will grant transitional alimony. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121 (g).)

Alimony in Solido (Lump-sum Alimony) in TN

Alimony in Solido is a type of long-term support. The entire amount of support will be determined by the judge on the date of the divorce, and the supporting spouse will normally pay in installments over a certain length of time.

The court may grant Alimony in Solido to cover the supported spouse’s divorce legal costs as well as post-divorce necessities. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121 (h).)

Who Pays Alimony in Tennessee?

In Tennessee alimony law, the spouse that makes most of the money will share that income with the other spouse. The idea behind who pays for alimony is to considerably level up the living standard of the dependent spouse to what it was while the marriage was on.

Regarding the sex that pays, alimony in Volunteer State is gender-neutral, meaning either spouse can request support from the other. As long as the alimony can be provided to the requesting spouse, then it will most likely be granted.

So a husband can receive alimony from a wife in Tennessee if the above conditions are met.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in TN?

How Long To Pay Alimony

The judge will decide how long alimony payment should last in Tennessee

The duration to pay alimony in Tennessee can differ depending on the circumstances. The judge will decide how long alimony should last after the court determines the type and amount of support. There is no hard and fast rule that judges must follow when determining a support timeline, but in general:

Rehabilitative alimony is paid for

  • as long as the court thinks it necessary for the supported spouse to fulfill training or school requirements in order to be employable. If the receiving spouse needs to extend assistance beyond the court’s initial term, he or she must request a review from the court.
  • When one of the spouses dies, the rehabilitative support ends.

Alimony in Futuro

  • may be short- or long-term, based on the needs of the supported spouse and the paying spouse’s ability to continue paying.
  • will be paid until the court orders otherwise
  • until the supported spouse remarries,
  • the paying spouse dies,
  • or the supported spouse lives with a third party in some instances.

Transitional support ends

  • If either spouse dies or
  • the supported spouse remarries,
  • on the date designated by the court.

Due to the temporary character of transitional support, the court may impose additional limitations, such as the supported spouse’s cohabitation.

Alimony in Solido (Lump-sum support) stops when the paying partner makes the final payment of alimony. If either spouse dies, remarries, or lives with a third party, the court does not terminate Alimony in Solido.

How to Collect Spousal Support Arrears in Tennessee

When it comes to collecting spousal support in Tennessee, you have a few choices if your ex-spouse has failed to make alimony payments as ordered by the court. Debts for spousal support are frequently given priority among debtors under US law.

Factors That Influence Alimony in Tennessee

The average amount payable as spousal support in Tennessee after divorce is determined by various factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”

To determine the final amounts for rehabilitative and permanent support in TN, the courts in TN takes into consideration the income of the spouses, plus other factors like:

  • earning capacity of each spouse.
  • the ability of the paying spouse to pay, considering assets, the standard of living, earning capacity, as well as earned and unearned income.
  • the extent of contribution the supported spouse gave to the other’s educational pursuit or professional license during the marriage
  • how long the marriage lasted
  • the needs of each spouse
  • the assets and debts of each spouse including separate property
  • each party’s tax consequences
  • the ability of the supported spouse to gain employment without interfering with their children’s care
  • each spouse’s health and age
  • each party’s balance of hardships
  • whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against the children or either party
  • will the dependent spouse be self-supporting within a reasonable period
  • any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
  • any other factors which the court wishes to consider

This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid in Volunteer State. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.

How Alimony is Calculated in TN

How Alimony is Calculated

How Alimony is Calculated in Tennessee

The amount to be paid as spousal support in Tennessee is calculated after considering the above-stated factors. Whichever option is adopted it is reflected in the Alimony Calculator

But to be explicit about how to calculate spousal support in TN, you may need to consult your spousal support attorney.

>>> Tennessee Spousal Support Calculator

Importance of Using a Skilled Tennessee Spousal Support Attorney

If you’re getting a divorce in Tennessee and need to negotiate or re-negotiate spousal support, you’ve definitely got a lot of questions and want to seek competent legal guidance. Though state Supreme Courts have supported lifetime spousal support,
your circumstances may or may not fulfill the requirements. TN courts may judge your case differently based on the merits of you and your previous spouse. There are so many variables to consider.

If you want to get spousal support for the rest of your life or if you want to fight against it in Tennessee, an expert divorce lawyer can help. Depending on the objective and the desire of the adversary attorney to bargain in good faith, you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

For the convenience of our members, we have an up-to-date directory of Tennessee divorce and spousal support attorneys who can help with a variety of issues. For legal advice and representation on spousal support that is powerful and well-informed.

Click Here to Get our Free Iowa Alimony recommendation.

FAQ About Tennessee Alimony Laws

Here are Frequently Asked Questions about spousal support laws in TN:

Can a Husband get Alimony in TN?

Yes. In Tennessee, alimony payment is gender-neutral, meaning the sex that pays or receives is not the main determinant, but other factors as stated above. For details click here.

Who Qualifies for Alimony in Tennessee?

Just as either spouse can pay or receive, the party that qualifies to receive spousal support is the dependent party while the marriage lasted. This means that in TN, the spouse that had lesser or no income when the marriage was on is also the one qualified to receive alimony. Click here for details

How Long do you have to be Married to get Alimony in TN?

To understand how long alimony lasts in Tennessee, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.

However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 10-20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.

Is Alimony Tax Deductible in Tennessee?

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which altered the link between alimony and taxes dramatically in Tennessee and all over the US, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payer and are no longer recognized as income for the recipient spouse as of January 1, 2019.

Is Alimony Mandatory in Volunteer State?

Alimony is mandatory in Tennessee as long as one of the spouses earns or owns assets that can be relied upon to support the other spouse after the marriage breaks down.

When is Alimony Paid in a TN Divorce?

Alimony is a type of remuneration that can be paid both before and after a divorce. In summary, Tennessee law mandates the payment of alimony when one spouse has the financial means to support the other. Alimony should not be awarded if one spouse has no need for it and the other has no ability to pay it.

Can Alimony be increased in Tennessee?

Alimony amount or duration can be increased or decreased due to changes in the financial circumstances of the parties in different ways, including:

  • an increase or decrease in the income of the alimony recipient
  • if it’s determined that the original alimony awarded is inadequate
  •  loss to the alimony recipient’s financial assets
  • an increase in the justified expenses of the alimony recipient
  • when the financial condition of the receiving spouse fails to improve as originally expected

Can you go to Jail for Not Paying Spousal Support in TN?

Technically, you will not be jailed for not paying alimony in Tennessee. While there are varying consequences for not paying alimony, you can still end up in jail as a result. Here is how.

If it’s a Tennessee court-ordered spousal support that you refuse to pay, it means you are in violation of a court order meaning you can be prosecuted for being in contempt of court if contempt proceedings are brought up against you. This could attract a jail term in TN}.

How to Modify Spousal Support in TN?

How to Avoid spousal support

How to Avoid spousal support in Tennessee

When necessary, Tennessee law allows for a spousal support modification. When it comes to alimony, courts in TN usually try to do their best to create judgments that are fair and effective in the long run. Nevertheless, conditions change over time, and these changes may compel a revision or modification of the initial order.

When filing for a spousal support modification in Tennessee, keep in mind that the courts will only entertain the motion if there has been a significant and long-term change in circumstances. A brief problem is unlikely to be significant enough to warrant a revision in the initial alimony ruling. Likewise, dissatisfaction with the support order is not a valid reason for a revision in TN.

The following are some of the most common reasons for requesting an alimony modification in Tennessee:

  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Relocation
  • Changes in income or employment
  • Birth of a new child
  • Health changes, including disability
  • A new dependent

How to Avoid or End Spousal Support in TN?

In Volunteer State, the spouse paying the alimony can successfully avoid or stop the alimony payment if he/she is able to prove any or all of the following points:

  • that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
  • the spouse proves that he has no source of income
  • the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse however, he/she will continue paying the child support for children if any
  • if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living

Alimony Laws in all 50 States

A Alabama  |  AlaskaArizonaArkansas
C CaliforniaColoradoConnecticut
D-H DelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaii
I IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa
K-L KansasKentuckyLouisiana
M MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontana
NebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth Dakota
P-S  PennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth Dakota
T-U  TennesseeTexasUtah
V-W  VermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.