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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Alimony > Divorce After a Long Marriage Is Not an Automatic Guarantee of Permanent Alimony

Divorce After a Long Marriage Is Not an Automatic Guarantee of Permanent Alimony


In Tennessee, in futuro alimony, also known as permanent alimony, is alimony to be paid in monthly installments with no end date specified; it typically ends when one of the spouses dies or when the recipient spouse remarries.  Tennessee courts only award in futuro alimony when the other types of alimony, all of which specify an end date for spousal support, would not be appropriate.  Courts do not even consider awarding in future alimony unless the couple was married at least 17 years and the recipient spouse is of retirement age or has a chronic illness that would make it difficult for them to work.  Even when the recipient spouse is elderly or infirm, it usually takes considerable effort on the part of the recipient spouse’s attorneys to secure an award of in futuro alimony.  If you think you should receive permanent alimony, whether or not the trial court in your divorce case has already made a decision about spousal support, contact a Tennessee alimony lawyer.

Details of the Nisenbaum Case

Karen and Michael Nisenbaum married in 1987, when she was 27 and he was 30.  Michael was a college graduate, and Karen had graduated from high school and taken a few college classes but had not made substantial progress toward a degree.  During their marriage, Michael held a series of positions in the industrial machines industry, earning an average annual salary of $175,000.  Karen was employed in a variety of jobs for most of their marriage, including when their child was young; some of her positions were part-time and some were full-time, but she never earned as much as Michael.

Michael and Karen’s relationship fell apart in 2013, by which time their child was an adult.  Karen started a relationship with another man, referred to in the court documents as D.S.  She moved out of Tennessee to live with him and to work in an unpaid capacity for his real estate management company.  Karen and Michael filed for divorce in 2015, and the divorce became final in 2017.

The trial court divided the couple’s property based on the assumption that Karen and Michael were both near retirement age and had already earned most of what they would earn in their careers.  It awarded Karen a portion of the money in Michael’s retirement accounts, as well as four years of transitional alimony.  Karen appealed the decision, requesting permanent alimony as well as a lump sum to pay for her upcoming dental treatments.  The appeals court rejected Karen’s appeal and upheld the trial court’s decision.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

Courts award alimony based on an examination of many factors regarding the finances, educational background, and health of both spouses.  Just because you don’t fit the stereotype of a little old lady who has never worked outside the home, you might still be entitled to permanent alimony.  Contact Knoxville alimony attorney Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.


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