Nashville Divorce Lawyer: Know Your Alimony

Nashville Divorce Lawyer Alimony

There’s no one type of alimony, so how do you know which is right for you? Have a Nashville Divorce Lawyer assess your case and decide what type of alimony is best suited to protect your livelihood and future!

What type of alimony did I say?
Averitte v. Averitte, M2012-00738-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2013)
The alimony stated in your Marital Dissolution Agreement may not be the alimony you are actually paying. The Court of Appeals affirmed a long line of cases wherein the alimony classification was determined not by what the parties stated in their Marital Dissolution Agreement but by how the alimony payments were structured.

Alimony in Solido vs. Alimony in Futuro
The dispute arises between Alimony in Solido versus Alimony in Futuro. Limited review: alimony in solido is a “lump sum” payment, “often” used to equalize the distribution of the marital estate or provide a definite amount of long term support. It is non-modifiable except by agreement of the parties. Alimony in Futuro is long term support, remains in the court’s control, is modifiable by either party, and terminates on the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. The total amount of alimony in future is undefined.

The Problem in Averitte
In Averitte v. Averitte, the problem was in the language of the Marital Dissolution Agreement. The section on alimony said “Husband agrees to pay Wife periodic alimony in the amount of $1,200 for a period of 7 years, which is 84 months . . . .” After the divorce, as is often the case, Wife remarried. Husband claimed he was paying alimony in futuro and filed to terminate his alimony because Wife remarried. Wife claimed Husband was paying alimony in solido and therefore alimony could not be terminated. And the lawyers rejoiced!

The Answer, or how Husband lost his case.
The court of appeals looked at the structure of the payments to resolve the dispute about what “periodic” actually meant. The Marital Dissolution Agreement stated a definite amount of money paid in a definite amount of time. The Marital Dissolution Agreement did not state any conditions of terminating the support. Because the amount of alimony paid was determinable upon the entry of the order, and there were no conditions to terminate or modify in the agreement, the court held that—in this Agreement—the alimony had to be classified as Alimony in Solido. Thus Husband’s claim failed and Wife will receive payments from Husband despite her remarriage.

Landmine in the Marital Dissolution Agreement
When drafting Marital Dissolution Agreements, demand that your attorney classify any alimony payments received or paid. Merely calling an alimony payment “periodic” sets everyone up for another extensive legal battle. Attorney’s should also take note: they should not wiggle around with language regarding alimony because it could set their clients up for an unpleasant surprise.

As one of the best teams of Nashville divorce lawyers, Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett makes a point of paying attention to the details of the type of alimony (there are four possible classifications under Tennessee Law—do you know them all?) as a means of ensuring that the best possible type and amount is awarded to our clients.

The attorneys of Cheatham, Palermo & Garrett, are experienced in the interpretation and application of Tennessee family laws and have been committed to protecting the financial and parental rights of men and women in Franklin and throughout Middle Tennessee for more than 30 years. They bring a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to each case they handle, providing their clients with skilled representation in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Prenuptial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, Music/Intellectual Property, and Juvenile Court.

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