This is an issue that comes up again and again in many of our divorce cases. As we handle a lot of high-asset contested divorces, alimony is at issue very frequently. Given the fluid nature of our society now, many people discuss their divorces with friends and family in different states, and these people want to be helpful and give advice and share their own divorce experiences. However, this can be a big problem because unlike the majority of states, Tennessee does not have a set formula to calculate alimony. This is important so I am going to repeat this again: TENNESSEE DOES NOT HAVE A SET FORMULA TO CALCULATE ALIMONY.
As a result of this, alimony is very much at issue in many cases because there is no clear answer. Awards vary not only based on incomes and circumstances, but also who your trial judge is and where your divorce is located. The Court of Appeals has not given clear guidelines on this issue, with highly variable awards being upheld on appeal with the exact same facts and circumstances. As a result, you can be in the same county and have a different result depending on which Judge hears your trial. Even more drastic is the variance between different counties, with some counties being known as giving very favorable awards and other counties being incredibly stingy.
The best Tennessee divorce attorneys will have a collection of cases and corresponding alimony awards that they can consult and review to help give you an alimony range for settlement purposes based on the case law, but even then it will still get filtered through the Judge. You could have the exact same factors as a published alimony opinion, and get more or get less depending on who you are in front of for your divorce trial. Listen to your divorce attorney when determining whether or not to accept an alimony settlement, or at most get a second opinion from another divorce attorney practicing in the same area who is familiar with your judge, but do not compare yourself to out of state alimony awards or other divorces because all you will do is harm your case and make an improperly informed decision on a settlement offer.
Where family and friends can be useful is helping you understand what life is like after divorce, or to give opinions on whether or not you should accept an in futuro award or take a lump sum buy out. These are issues where personal perspective can be very useful, and will vary on life experience, not what state you are in or who you are in front of for your divorce hearing. It’s annoying and inconvenient in an age where people want immediate gratification and clear set numbers, but with alimony in Tennessee it just isn’t feasible.
Can’t find what you are looking for on our website? Did this article create more questions than it answered? Call our office at (615) 620-5848 to set up a consultation with divorce attorney Morgan Smith, named 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for three years in a row by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys, and a Three Best Divorce Attorney for the third year running by threebest.com.