If you are considering a divorce, alimony (also known as spousal support in Tennessee) is probably one of the most important factors that will be determined in the divorce process. Like many others who are facing divorce for the first time, you will likely have concerns regarding alimony (or spousal support).

Alimony provides financial assistance from one spouse to the other based on financial need and the payer’s ability to pay. The amount of spousal support and duration varies depending on the type of support awarded. In Tennessee, alimony is not awarded in all divorce cases.


The court will consider the following factors:

  • Each party’s earning capacity
  • Each party’s education / professional training level
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Each party’s age, physical condition, and mental condition
  • Ability of each party to seek employment outside the home
  • Separate assets of both parties
  • Provisions made regarding the marital property
  • Standard of living of each party during the marriage
  • Relative fault of each party

See T.C.A. § 36-5-121

These factors will help the court determine what type of alimony to award, including financial support to help one spouse transition to life after divorce or alimony for a spouse who cannot become self-sufficient due to illness, age, or other factors.


If the court decides to order spousal support, there are four different types of alimony the court can chose from:

  • Alimony in futuro – Intended to provide long-term support to a former spouse until that person’s death or remarriage. This situation is appropriate if the recipient is economically disadvantaged by the divorce and, because of age, disability, illness, or other reason is unable to improve his/her economic situation. This type of alimony is paid in regular installments and is subject to future modification.
  • Alimony in solido – Form of long-term support, but the total amount of alimony is set at the time of the divorce and is paid in a lump sum or in installments until paid in full. Alimony in solido cannot be modified after the divorce is finalized.
  • Transitional Alimony – Form of short-term spousal support that is intended to help one spouse cover the costs of transitioning to a life as a single person, i.e. one spouse moving out of the marital home may receive alimony to cover the cost of renting an apartment/house for a fixed amount of time.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony – Form of support that is paid over a fixed period of time to help the disadvantaged spouse improve his/her employment options through training or education. A reason why one spouse would be awarded rehabilitative alimony would be because one spouse stopped working to stay at home to raise children. After the divorce that spouse must either resume a former career or start a new one. A spouse seeking rehabilitative alimony should be ready to present a plan that sets out what that person intends to do (i.e. obtain a college degree, professional license/certificate), how long it will take and what it will cost, and the expected benefits in employment opportunities or salary increase when the plan is complete.

Many times in divorce cases, there is a preference for rehabilitative or transitional alimony over alimony in solido or alimony in futuro. The intent of this preference is to help an economically disadvantaged spouse achieve self-sufficiency, if at all possible. A court will order alimony in futuro only when it finds that the disadvantaged spouse will be unable to improve his/her financial position with the aid of short-term alimony.

When determining spousal support in a divorce case, each spouse must provide a full financial disclosure. It is important to maintain proper financial documentation to provide to your Murfreesboro divorce attorney. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, it is important to notify your divorce lawyer so steps can be taken to discover the hidden assets.


While a divorce case is pending, a court may order temporary spousal support, which will end when the final judgment for divorce is granted. The amount of alimony temporarily granted is based on the court’s discretion, not an exact formula. The current financial situations and present needs of the disadvantaged spouse, in addition to the couple’s standard of living at the time of separation, will be considered.


Some forms of alimony may be modified. A change in financial circumstances of either spouse may require a modification to a current alimony court order, which could result in an upward or downward modification of support.

Like other aspects of a divorce, determining a fair and equitable alimony amount is complicated. David Clarke has represented clients who receive alimony payments and those who have to pay alimony. He will review your specific situation to determine if alimony is needed in your divorce case and, if so, what type will realistically deal with your needs and the needs of your former spouse.

To discuss your specific case, please call (615) 796-6299.