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Which Is Better: Periodic Alimony or Lump Sum Alimony?

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What would you rather do: pay your ex-spouse a large amount of money all at once, or pay a smaller amount each month for one or more years? Ultimately, while these are both different types of alimony, it is often left up to the courts to decide the best option based on the particular situation. Tennessee family courts make alimony decisions not to punish one former spouse and to reward another, but rather based on what is fair to both parties, given the circumstances of their marriage and divorce.  It depends largely on how economically entwined the two spouses were while they were married, rather than on who wins and who loses. A Knoxville alimony lawyer can help you understand the various types of alimony in Tennessee.

Tennessee Alimony Terms Decoded 

Title 36 Chapter 5 is the section of the Tennessee Code that governs alimony.  Like many legal texts, it contains a number of Latin terms that are not always easy to decipher.  The following includes some Latin terms you might see in a decree of spousal support in Tennessee.

  • Pendente litePendente lite is Latin for “while the legal case is pending.” It is temporary alimony, usually a monthly amount paid until the divorce is final.  It is usually equivalent to the household bills or half the household bills (depending on whether both spouses work.)
  • In solido – This type of alimony is a lump sum, usually paid to one spouse to “buy out” that spouse’s share of an indivisible piece of property. For example, the wife might keep the house and pay the husband a lump sum equal to half the equity the couple owns in the house.
  • In futuro – This is spousal support paid in monthly installments. Tennessee is one of only a few states where one former spouse can be required to pay in future alimony for life.

Which Type of Alimony Is Best? 

When possible, Tennessee courts like divorcing spouses to make a clean break and to disentangle their finances as quickly as possible.  Many divorces don’t involve any alimony, and in the ones that do, the alimony is associated with a certain time limit and a certain goal.  For example, if the wife is in nursing school at the time of the divorce, but the husband works full time, the court might order him to pay her alimony each month until she graduates, at which time she is expected to be financially independent.  In futuro alimony is only for marriages that lasted longer than 20 years and in which one spouse has very limited earning potential due to health problems or due to being out of the workforce for an extended period.

Contact Patrick L. Looper About Alimony Cases 

If you think your current alimony agreement is unfair, you may be right, and it may be possible to modify it.  Contact Patrick L. Looper in Knoxville, Tennessee for a consultation.

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