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Tennessee courts may award rehabilitative alimony in divorce

Some married families have arranged their lives so that one spouse is the main income-earner, while the other keeps the home and raises the children. However, even if this arrangement is beneficial, it is no guarantee against divorce. And, should the couple determine that divorce is in their best interests, the spouse who stayed out of the workforce may find that they are at an economic disadvantage. The state recognizes this and has laws in place that provide for spousal maintenance.

Under Tennessee Statute, Section 36-5-121, spousal maintenance is payments made by one party to the other, so each party can maintain the same standard of living. But, not every award of spousal maintenance is permanent.

For example, sometimes, a judge orders one party to pay rehabilitative alimony. Through rehabilitation, the party receiving support is supposed to eventually achieve an earning capacity that allows them to enjoy a standard of living close to that they had while married.

When the court awards rehabilitative alimony, this award is controlled by the court. It can change, if there is a substantial and material change in circumstances. If the amount of rehabilitative alimony a spouse receives is extended, the burden falls on the receiving spouse to show that he or she has made every reasonable effort to rehabilitate, but has been unable to accomplish that goal.

Rehabilitative alimony can be helpful for the spouse who needs time to get back on his or her feet financially following a divorce. But, it is important that any spousal maintenance award is fair to both parties. Therefore, if a party is seeking alimony, he or she may want to do so with the help of an attorney, who can assess their client's situation and provide legal advice and advocacy in and out of court.

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