Tennessee To Take a Fresh Look at the Concept of Permanent Alimony “These Days”

Times change. Or, as one of my law school professors used to put it, “the pendulum swings”.

Tennessee Husband and Wife are divorcing.

Husband and Wife have been married for 21 years.

Husband and Wife have two adult children together.

Husband earns $137,000 per year.

Wife, who is 43 years old, earns a considerably lesser $72,000.

At trial, the family court denies Wife any alimony whatsoever.

On appeal by Wife, an intermediate level appellate court awards Wife $1,250 in monthly alimony for life, unless she remarries.

This time, Husband appeals.

The assertion under Tennessee law is that such an award is not appropriate, because the Wife is not 50 or older, and/or was not married to Husband long enough and/or did not sacrifice her career sufficiently for the marriage, and/or Wife is not unable to obtain a “good” job.

Policy considerations include that permanent alimony allegedly has the unintended side effect of discouraging long-term marriages. Husband further argues that Wife is discouraged from remarrying with such a permanent alimony award.

Wife, on the other hand, maintains that she deserves permanent alimony, arguing that she once worked two jobs to get Husband through school so that he could get to the point where his career is now.

At a high level, as in Florida, Tennessee looks to the paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony and the receiving spouse’s need for alimony.

The trial court seems to be more in tune with the trend sweeping the nation … now, than the intermediate appellate court. The pendulum has swung … again.

Under Florida law, significance is still attached to the fact that the marriage endured more than twenty years, but the relatively young age of the Wife and her actual earnings history would not be overlooked by a Florida court either.

Read more in this Knoxville [TN] News Sentinel article: Tennessee Supreme Court considers life alimony.