Modifying or Terminating Alimony in Tennessee
While a divorce may last forever, certain terms of the divorce agreement may not last forever. One important item that might be subject to change is the order to pay an ex-spouse alimony. While it is possible to have an alimony order modified or ended, it is not a simple or easy process. The information in this article is offered as a basic introduction to the main concepts in the complicated, layered issues surrounding alimony modification in Tennessee. Every case is different and requires specific analysis to understand how the law may apply to you, as well as exceptions which might apply that are not discussed in this article. For a more in-depth discussion, contact one of the experienced alimony attorneys at Fort, Holloway & Rogers.
Types of Tennessee Alimony
Not every alimony order is the same. Some orders may be subject to modification or termination where others are not.
The four kinds of alimony granted in Tennessee are:
- alimony in futuro: a type of alimony awarded if and when a court determines that the spouse to be supported cannot become self-sustaining/return to the lifestyle enjoyed while married on their own, or awarded when the divorcing spouses agree upon it.
- alimony in solido: this kind of alimony generally serves the purpose of making a payout toward property division over a period of time.
- rehabilitative alimony: this type of alimony is meant to help the supported person to become self-sustaining, or to return to the lifestyle enjoyed while the couple was married.
- transitional alimony: similar to rehabilitative alimony, but it is not subject to potential future modification.
Very generally speaking, only alimony in futuro and rehabilitative alimony may be modified.
Tennessee law has developed to allow certain types of alimony to be modified or terminated, but only when there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances. Tennessee law describes this as something unforeseeable, unanticipated, or something not contemplated by the divorcing couple. To be substantial, the change must significantly affect either one party’s ability to pay the support, or the party receiving the support has had a change in circumstances and their need for the support has significantly decreased.
How Much Will the Order be Modified?
The courts will not willy-nilly change the amount ordered in an alimony order. If modification is warranted, courts will consider several factors in determining what the modification should be, including (but certainly not limited to) such items as:
- The relative earning capacity, obligations and needs of both parties,
- Both former spouse’s education, training, ability and opportunity to secure education and training to improve earning potential,
- How long the marriage lasted,
- The age, and mental/physical condition of each party
These are only a few factors to be considered, those pursuing an alimony modification should expect a thorough analysis from the court. Alimony was granted for a reason – at one point in time there was a real need. To change the order you must be prepared to demonstrate that it is warranted. A competent alimony attorney can help you understand what you need to do to be successful in your own case.
Contact Fort, Holloway Rogers
Alimony modification cases are complex and nuanced. Because of this, what is necessary to be successful in each case is highly specific. The experienced Franklin alimony lawyers at Fort, Holloway & Rogers can discuss the specifics of your case with you and help you understand the steps you would need to take to be successful in your own alimony modification or termination case. Contact our office today to begin speaking with our team.