There was a time when a couple divorced and the wife had been a homemaker who raised the children and didn’t work outside of the home. After a long-term marriage the wife might reasonably expect to get permanent alimony payments from her former spouse. That almost sounds like a fairy tale when compared with the way the concept of alimony is evolving with the times.

Now that women have taken a prominent role in the workplace and they contribute in many cases as much as and even more than their spouses, the concept of spousal support that goes on and on for years is going the way of the eight-track tape. The primary goal of permanent alimony is to allow the spouse who earned less or not at all to maintain the standard of living to which they had become accustomed.

The court considers several factors in deciding whether permanent alimony, or any other type of spousal support, might be appropriate including:

  • Earning capacity and financial resources of each spouse
  • Education and training level of each spouse
  • How long the couple was married
  • Age, physical and mental condition of each spouse
  • Marital assets and how they have been divided as well as each person’s separate property
  • Contributions—both tangible and intangible that each spouse has made to the marriage
  • Standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage

(Tenn. Code Ann. §36-5-121)

The judge takes all of these and any other factors that pertain to each situation into consideration when coming to a decision about whether to award alimony, what kind of alimony and how much would be appropriate.

So, the answer to the question about whether a person can expect to get permanent alimony is, it’s complicated – and probably not. Unless you have been in a long-term marriage, and your spouse shouldered the financial responsibilities while you cared for the household and the children for most of the marriage, you are unlikely to get permanent alimony.

In general, the shorter the marriage and the smaller the gap between the income level of each spouse the less likely, in most circumstances, one will be awarded alimony. In cases of economic imbalance or where one spouse has agreed to support the other while they pursued a higher education, the court can use several kinds of alimony including Rehabilitative alimony, transitional alimony or lump sum alimony.

When you have questions about how divorce will impact your life, you need to get real answers that apply to your situation. Consulting with a seasoned family law attorney can give you a lot of clarity and help you make informed decisions about your future.

Contact LaFevor & Slaughter to schedule your free, initial consultation today to discuss your case.