Reviewing the factors considered when awarding alimony

Many in Memphis may assume that when a couple chooses to get a divorce, one side will automatically be awarded alimony. This assumption likely arises due to a number of misconceptions, chief among them being that whomever was the primary provider in a relationship is obligated to support the other. Most might assume that to the husband. Statistics seem to back up that belief, with the Huffington Post reporting that 380,000 women in the U.S. receive some form of spousal support as opposed to only 12,000 men. Yet that is not always the case. 

To understand why the court chooses to award alimony, one must comprehend its purpose. Alimony is only meant to help one whose decisions to contribute to marriage put him or her at an economic disadvantage should his or her union end re-establish him or herself financially. Thus, the court considers a number of factors before choosing to award such support. According to Section 36-5-121(i) of Tennessee's Code regarding domestic relations, these include: 

  • The earning capacity of each party involved, included each's individual financial obligations and needs
  • The financial resources available to each party, including each's separate assets, awarded marital property, and income earned from pensions, retirement or profit sharing plans as well as other sources
  • Each parties level of education (or the time required for one side to achieve an education the would allow him or her to secure gainful employment)
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The current age, physical condition and mental status of each party 
  • Whether or not one has obligations inside the home (such as raising children). 

Other factors the court considers when deciding to award alimony include the standard of living a couple enjoyed while married, along with the contribution each made to the marriage (as well as to the marriage ending).