Judges Award Permanent Alimony in Tennessee on a Case-by-Case Basis
If all your information about alimony comes from stand-up comedy routines, you might think that courts require men to pay 50 percent or more of their income to their ex-wives, who, for their part, avoid seeking employment while they start a new life with their live-in boyfriends. If your information comes from friends who have divorced in the last decade or so, then you might think that permanent alimony is a thing of the past. The truth is somewhere in between. Every family is different, and judges consider many factors when deciding how much alimony should be paid and the timeframe for paying it. If you have questions about alimony or want to modify your alimony agreement, contact a Tennessee alimony lawyer.
The Case for Permanent Alimony
Permanent alimony was the usual way of awarding alimony in previous generations, when divorce was much less common, and when women had far fewer opportunities to earn an income. Today, most marriages involve two spouses who work and earn an income, so alimony payments are usually for a smaller amount and a shorter period of time. Judges usually do not even consider permanent alimony an option unless the couple have been married for at least 17 years. The recipients of permanent alimony are usually women, age 50 or older, who were out of the workforce for many years and whose income earning potential is limited, even if they are employed at the time of the divorce. The court may also award permanent alimony to a spouse whose ability to work is limited because of a disability or chronic illness.
Details of the Gonsewski Case
Craig and Johanna Gonsewski married in Alabama in 1987, when they were both 21 years old. Both Craig and Johanna remained employed throughout the marriage, even when their daughters were young. They began divorce proceedings in 2007, and the divorce became final in 2009, at which point both daughters were legal adults. The court based its decision about property division on the parties’ income as of 2008. That year, Johanna’s salary as a civil servant was $72,000, while Craig’s salary in an upper management position at a restaurant equipment manufacturing company was $137,418; both spouses earned bonuses in addition to their salaries. The court did not order any spousal support, but it awarded Johanna a greater share of the proceeds after the sale of the family home.
Johanna appealed the decision, arguing that she was entitled to spousal support because her income was lower than Craig’s. The Appeals Court awarded her $1,250 per month in permanent alimony. Craig appealed this decision, and the Tennessee Supreme Court sided with him.
Contact Patrick L. Looper About Alimony Cases
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to alimony; every family must move on from divorce in its own way. A Knoxville family lawyer can help you achieve or modify an alimony agreement that is fair to you, whether you are the one paying or receiving the alimony. Contact Knoxville alimony attorney Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.