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What Are The Four Types of Alimony?

Screen-Shot-2016-02-23-at-2.30.39-PM-1000-ffccccccTransparent-3333-0.20.3-1.pngTypically, one of the first questions a potential client asks an attorney prior to beginning the divorce/dissolution process is, "Am I going to have to pay alimony?" or "Will I receive alimony?" While many clients have a general understanding of what alimony is-the legal obligation of an individual to provide financial support to his or her spouse before and/or after the dissolution of marriage-most do not realize there are different types of alimony. Under Tennessee Law there are four types of alimony: (1)rehabilitative alimony, (2) alimony in futuro, (3)transitional alimony, and (4) alimony in solido. It is important to understand the similarities and differences between these forms of alimony in order to determine which may apply to your divorce.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony serves to do exactly that- rehabilitate. It aids a spouse who has perhaps been out of the workforce for a considerable period of time or who would need to develop additional skills in order to earn enough income to enjoy the same standard of living that was enjoyed during the course of the marriage. This type of alimony is typically ordered to allow the spouse an opportunity to return to school or to attend training seminars. Once the spouse is "rehabilitated" the alimony support may be terminated.

To give you an example, consider the following: A husband works as an architect for a large company in Nashville, and the wife is in the process of attaining her Ph.D. in psychology. The wife decides to postpone her career to be a stay-at-home mother and care for the children. However, after the divorce, the wife wishes to complete her Ph.D. and return to the workforce so that she can have a career and maintain her current lifestyle.

Rehabilitative alimony may be modified by court order, terminated upon completion of training, or extended until the spouse is able to complete his or her education.

Alimony in Futuro

Alimony in futuro is an interesting form of alimony in that it can be awarded in addition to rehabilitative alimony, transitional alimony, or alimony in solido. Using a similar example, let us suppose the following:

The husband is a heart surgeon at Vanderbilt Medical Center, and the wife was previously employed as a medical assistant working at the hospital to put herself through nursing school. Even if the wife returned to school and completed her nursing degree, she would not be able to earn as much as her husband nor maintain her previous lifestyle once she rejoined the workforce. Upon considering the foregoing, the court may order the husband to pay not only rehabilitative alimony but alsoalimony in futuro.

Alimony in futuro only terminates upon death or remarriage; however, it can be modified by the Court.

Transitional Alimony

Transitional alimony is really self-explanatory. This alimony serves to aid a spouse transitioning back to living "the single life." Again, let us refer to an example to better understand this type of alimony. Perhaps the wife in the first scenario earned her Ph.D. in psychology prior to filing for divorce, and she has been working as a professor at the local university for over a year. While the wife may not need rehabilitative alimony or alimony in futuro, she may need transitional alimony to pay for a new residence and her living expenses as a single person.

This short-term alimony is not modifiable unless the parties agree or the court states otherwise, and/or the recipient is living with a third party. This type of alimony also terminates upon death.

Alimony in Solido

Alimony in solido significantly differs from the prior types of alimony, as it is the only form of alimony that cannot be modified (unless agreed to by the parties), terminated, or extended. This is simplistic and advantageous because the total amount of alimony can be calculated at the time it is assigned during the divorce.

To illustrate, if the court orders a spouse to pay $2,000 per month for a total period of 90 months, the total amount of alimony would be $180,000.

In Conclusion

Distinguishing between the forms of alimony can be difficult, especially given that more than one form can be awarded to a spouse during a divorce. However, it is important to at least understand the reasoning behind the various types of alimony that may be ordered by the court and to be knowledgeable of whether each type of alimony payment can be modified, extended, or terminated.


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