Tax Day is approaching. Are you ready?


via FindLaw

Tax Day is coming up on April 15, and many of our clients have questions about their tax obligation now that their family's legal matter is resolved. FindLaw provides an excellent resource to help you navigate your deductions and obligations:

Spousal support: Deciding between modifiable and non-modifiable Divorce

via Avvo

After determining the amount of spousal support, or alimony, that will be paid, it's important to consider whether this agreement will be modifiable. The decision whether to make spousal support, also known as alimony, modifiable or non-modifiable is one of the most critical decisions the parties and their attorneys will make regarding spousal support in finalizing a divorce case.

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Will my ex-spouse get my inheritance?


Inheritance is separate property, which means it belongs only to the inheriting spouse. However, you must take care not to treat it as marital property owned by both spouses. There are things you can do to prevent an inheritance from being treated as marital property subject to equitable division.

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The importance of rehabilitative alimony for both parties

Very often, divorcing spouses in Tennessee are not capable of earning the same amount of income. They have different earnings capacities. Sometimes, the inequity is due to mutual choices made during the marriage, but not always.

Often, that difference will cause one spouse to endure a much lower standard of living after the divorce that the other spouse. Alimony, which can take many forms, is a tool to help even the standards of living of the spouses after the divorce. One very important kind of alimony is rehabilitative alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony favored

Tennessee Code section 36-5-121, Decree for support of spouse, provides the opportunity for a spouse in a divorce to receive rehabilitative alimony. It makes clear that a financially disadvantaged spouse should be the payee and receive rehabilitative alimony whenever feasible.

By rehabilitating, the law generally seeks to have the payee spouse gain an earning capacity that will increase his or her post-divorce standard of living. The rehabilitative alimony payments combined with the reasonable efforts by payee spouse should join to meet the goal of increasing earning capacity sufficiently.

Consideration of two different standards of living

One level of the sought-after standard of living for the payee spouse to achieve is the standard enjoyed during the marriage. Another level, when necessary, is to achieve the level of post-divorce standard of living that the payor spouse is expecting to enjoy. This second standard comes into play when the payor spouse also cannot meet his or her prior standard of living, post-divorce.

As shared by the Tennessee Bar Association, it is possible for a court to also order alimony in futuro in addition to rehabilitative alimony. This may occur when rehabilitative alimony is only partially successful. However, when fully rehabilitated, a payee spouse should not receive alimony in futuro.

The duration of the marriage is also a consideration when deciding how long the rehabilitative alimony payments must continue. For instance, a marriage of 14 years may not justify rehabilitative alimony for 15 years duration.

 Intended uses of rehabilitative alimony payments

The actual payments of rehabilitative alimony are with the intention of helping to pay for additional education or job training of the payee spouse. That education is then the foundation for that spouse becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent. As such, successfully implemented rehabilitative alimony can benefit both spouses. The payor spouse will not suffer paying alimony permanently, nor in futuro.

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).