Alimony or spousal support is one of the hardest issues tackled in divorce proceedings. Spouses ordered to pay spousal support to their exes are often, and for a good reason, resentful of this court-ordered obligation.

If a judge in Tennessee has ordered you to pay alimony, there is a chance it is a thorn in your side. If you are struggling with this burden of financially supporting your ex, get a family law attorney in Kingston, TN, to help you go through the alimony terms in your divorce agreement.

One of the things you may be wondering is how long will these payments last and what’s needed to terminate these payments. This may depend on the type of alimony, your situation, and the general rules set out for these payments.

What Types of Alimony Arrangements Exist in Tennessee?

One of the things to consider when determining how long you will pay alimony is the type of spousal support in question. In Tennessee, spouses can be ordered to pay any of these four types of alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony

A judge can order rehabilitative alimony to allow the spouse receiving the payments the chance to improve their financial situation by either attending a job training, going to school, or earn any other skills that can help them achieve financial independence.

The order can end on a specific date, when either of the ex-spouses dies or when the order’s terms are met.

Alimony in futuro (periodic alimony)

This is often a long-term and sometimes permanent support order. In most cases, it is awarded to an ex-spouse who is unable to support themselves. E.g., if they are disabled and can’t work or attend training.

It will typically continue until the date ordered by the judge when the supported spouse remarries, or either of the ex-spouses dies, or sometimes when the supported spouse starts living with a third party.

Alimony in solido (lump-sum alimony)

Lump-sum alimony is a form of long-term alimony. The judge will typically determine a total amount, and you will have to pay in installments for a specific duration. This financial support can sometimes cover your ex’s legal divorce expenses and needs after the divorce.

It will only end when you make the final payment of the alimony. Whether your ex dies, remarries, or starts living with another person, you will still have to complete the payments.

Transitional alimony

This is a short term support plan awarded to an ex who does not need rehabilitation but needs financial help until they get back on their feet.

Such an order will end on a specific date, when your ex dies, or remarries. Because it is a temporal arrangement, the court might set conditions on the order if your ex starts living with a third party.

How Is Alimony Calculated?

Predicting how much alimony you will be paying is difficult because each state court has its own rules for determining amounts. However, the amount will generally depend on:

  • Term of the marriage
  • Age of the ex-spouses
  • The income of the ex-spouses
  • Gender of the spouse seeking support
  • Future financial capabilities of each ex-spouse

As a rule, the court will look at the needs of the financially deprived party and the payor’s ability to pay.

Can I Modify or Terminate My Alimony Order?

The court might review,  in the future unless both spouses agreed in writing that neither would request for such a review later. For alimony in futuro and rehabilitative alimony, you may ask for modification or terminating of the order if you can show a change in circumstance. For example, if you lose your job due to health problems.

Transitional alimony is only modifiable if the receiving spouse agreed in writing allowing such modifications in the future, or the court states that the order is modifiable, or if your ex starts cohabiting with a third party. For alimony in solido, it is a nonmodifiable arrangement.

Situations That Could Pave the Way for Termination of Your Support Order

Depending on the type of support you are paying to your ex, this obligation may be terminated for these reasons.

  • Your ex adjusts to a new lifestyle after the divorce
  • Your ex remarries
  • Your ex has become financially independent
  • Your ex passes on
  • Your situation changes significantly that you are no longer able to continue paying
  • Your ex starts living with a third party (cohabiting)

Suppose you or your ex has met any one of these scenarios, it is time to discuss your options for modifying or terminating your obligation with an .

What Will Happen if I Just Stop Paying Spousal Support?

You are at risk of a legal action being brought against you. Your ex could file a petition for criminal contempt, civil contempt, or both. If your ex successfully proves that you had the ability to pay when the payments were due but chose not to, then that is a criminal contempt and will be charged and punished like any other crime.

If your ex proves that you currently have the capacity to pay, but you have refused to pay, then that is a civil contempt. You may be jailed until such payments are made.

Compassionate Family Law Attorney Offering Guidance

Paying alimony can be painful. But one thing you should not do is to stop paying the financial support. Even if it doesn’t seem fair, failure to pay can get you into legal trouble. If you want to stop paying those alimony payments, you have to petition the court to modify or terminate your existing order.

Before deciding to suspend or terminate your spousal support payments for whatever reason, it is best to speak to a Kingston divorce lawyer first. You would have avoided contempt charges against you and fines for delinquency.

Consult your family law attorney to get your questions answered, guidance through the process, and advice on moving forward with your life.