Spouses who divorce after a lengthy marriage may have disputes related to a sudden change in income or other financial concerns. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee considered the issue of transitional alimony in an August 1, 2017 case. The spouses in this Tennessee divorce case had divorced after nearly 30 years of marriage. The husband brought the appeal, contesting the trial court’s award of transitional alimony to the wife.
The spouses had resolved many of the issues related to their divorce through mediation, but with the question of alimony unsettled, the matter went before the trial court. Testimony established that the husband’s post-divorce gross monthly income would be approximately $9,500, while the wife’s income was estimated at $3,600. After deducting their respective expenses, the lower court ordered an award of transitional alimony paid to the wife in the amount of $500 a month for the next 12 years, until the wife could claim Social Security retirement benefits. In his appeal, the husband challenged both the amount and duration of the alimony awarded, arguing that the wife failed to demonstrate a sufficient need for it.
In Tennessee, alimony decisions by the court require the careful balancing of many factors, which are provided by law. The two most important factors are the disadvantaged spouse’s need and the obligor spouse’s ability to pay. Other factors that courts are directed to consider include, but are not limited to, the duration of the marriage and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, the age and physical condition of the spouses, the education and training of each spouse, their separate assets, and, if appropriate, the relative fault of the parties.