One of the hardest parts about a divorce is how it costs you half of the income you’ve become accustomed to. There’s just no way around it. Marriage is the joining of two lives, and all the perks each of those lives carry with them, and divorce is the opposite. However, if you make much less than your ex-spouse, it’s likely they will have to pay you alimony in some form or another — and it’s likely you’re looking forward to that. No judgement! Nothing wrong with it, really. You are entitled to your freedom without having to sacrifice all your finances for it, especially if your ex is more than capable of affording the payments.
So, how can you make sure you get the maximum amount? And if, down the line, things go further south, can you get even more? Well, the answers to both questions are not exactly straight-forward (the law never is), but your friendly neighborhood divorce attorneys are here to at least help get you up to speed!
How do Tennessee judges award alimony?
We have said it before and we will say it again, and then we will probably say it one more time just to be really extra sure you know: alimony is not guaranteed. There are things that are guaranteed, and then there is alimony. Now, that being said, if you are in less fortunate circumstances than your ex-spouse, it is definitely an option to explore during your divorce (with the help of your attorney, of course). Unlike other states, Tennessee decides alimony amount on a case-by-case basis rather than with some sort of calculator. This means that, assuming you and your ex can’t mediate together and decide on an alimony amount yourselves, the judge will be looking at a lot of factors to make their decision.
- Your standard of living
- Your ages
- The mental and physical health of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- Your marital incomes, assets, and debts
- Your separate assets and debts
- Any pre- or post-nuptial agreements (if applicable)
- Your potential for future income (based on whatever job you have at the time of the divorce — no one is saying you look perma-poor)
- Whether or not there were grounds for divorce
- Each spouse’s individual contributions to the marriage
- Any other factors the judge decides is relevant
Alongside all these wonderful conditions standing between you and your money, you should know that there are actually four different types of alimony you could get — depending on your circumstances. As convoluted and confusing as it may seem, trust us; this is good for you. The law is meant to be fair, remember. You could be looking at rehabilitative alimony, which is just to help you get back on your feet, or alimony in futuro which is as long-term as it is rare. There’s also alimony in solido, which basically means you get an ex-spouse and a big lump-sum of schmoney rather than staggered payments, and there’s transitional alimony, which is just supposed to help you get used to being single.
The good news is, you don’t actually have to understand the nitty-gritty of how this is all decided and treated, you just gotta make sure you hire an attorney who does. Having someone who can negotiate on your behalf and make it incredibly clear to the judge how much less fortunate you are can make all the difference.
Can I modify an alimony order?
Things change, and so do people, and so do circumstances. So if your divorce is already done and dusted, your alimony already decided, you might be wondering if this means you’re stuck in the agreement you made with no chance of recourse. Thankfully, the answer is “not quite.” See, while modifying a support order is indeed possible (as long as you and your ex never agreed in writing not to ever modify it), you have to actually have a valid reason for it to happen (and not just “he doesn’t deserve that much savings”). It also depends on what kind of alimony you were awarded in the first place. Like we said — complicated. We know. It sucks.
For alimony in futuro and rehabilitative alimony, Tennessee courts may modify or terminate the agreement as long as the party asking for the change can provide substantial and material proof of substantial and material circumstantial changes. So, this would be in cases of you losing your job suddenly and involuntarily, or being evicted, or some other life-altering, expensive event. Transitional alimony is even harder to get modified than that, and alimony in solido is almost always non-modifiable.
Look, we’re not trying to scare you off. Sometimes it needs to be done, and that’s just that. But it’s important to know and understand how complex this stuff can be so that, frankly, you don’t try to do it alone. It is so easy for a layperson to accidentally lose out on money they could otherwise be owed simply because they didn’t know about a specific clause or tactic. Therefore, before the divorce is finalized and before the support agreement is decided upon, you probably want to make sure a legal professional is there at your side.
The Knoxville divorce attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter are the legal professionals for the job. We have years and years of experience working with people going through divorces with all different circumstances and all sorts of moving parts. If you think your specific case is too complex, too daunting — no, it isn’t, and we’re here to help show you that and do the hard work on your behalf. You’ve got enough to deal with. To learn more about how we can work to get you the most out of your alimony agreement, call us today at (865) 637-6258 or use our contact form.
For more than 38 years, our established law office has earned a positive reputation for professional representation for those in need of family law and estate planning services.
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