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Tennessee Supreme Court Considers Case Involving Lifetime Alimony Payments

By Nottage and Ward on March 28, 2011

According to My Fox Memphis, the Tennessee Supreme Court is considering a case that may change the way the state awards alimony by examining the bar for limited or lifetime payments.

The case involves the divorce of a couple who, since 2007, has been involved in a legal battle. In 2009, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ordered the man to pay $1,250 per month in alimony payments to his ex-wife, and the payments were to continue for life, unless she remarried. At that time, the ex-wife was 43-years-old and was making approximately $72,000 per year, while her former husband made $137,000 per year. The couple had been married for 21 years when the ex-wife filed for divorce in 2007.

Typically, in Tennessee, this kind of alimony is reserved for a person aged 50 years or older and is awarded to a woman who had been married to a man for decades, gave up her career to raise his family, and is not able to find a job that would enable her to maintain the lifestyle she maintained while married. A county circuit judge ruled that the ex-wife should not be awarded any alimony but was overturned by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, who said the husband earned significantly more than his wife during the last few years of their marriage and the disparity of their incomes kept increasing. A lawyer for the woman alleges she worked two jobs to put the man through school, and believes the man should pay because he was the one who caused the dissolution of the marriage. The man’s attorney, however, denies the allegation that he was the cause of the divorce.

Law experts believe that if the alimony payments are permitted, it may discourage people to remain in marriages that are long-term as these payments last a lifetime, unlike child support payments. The case’s oral arguments will be heard sometime this spring. According to the article, the two main factors the court will take into account are the ex-wife’s need for alimony and the ex-husband’s ability to pay it.

In Illinois, alimony is now known as maintenance, which may be temporary or permanent. There are several factors the courts take into account when awarding maintenance in Illinois, which may leave those who are considering a divorce confused or intimidated. The Chicago maintenance attorneys at Nottage and Ward can help you understand what maintenance you may be eligible for and can litigate or negotiate on your behalf. For a consultation, call 312-332-2915.

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