Most Tennessee couples enter a divorce with many questions about all stages of the process: what will be expected of them, how will they be affected emotionally and financially and even what will their post-divorce life look like? Many people have particular concerns about spousal support and want to know how the court determines an amount, how it is collected and what happens if the payor fails to meet his or her obligation. Spousal support is intended to provide an ongoing income to a spouse with a lower income.
How is spousal support calculated and when does it end?
If either spouse is entitled to spousal support, individual state laws will determine the amount. The court will consider several factors, including the recipient’s need for support, the payor’s ability to pay, previous lifestyle and the length of the marriage; the court will usually also take into account whether minor children are involved. Most often, an end date will be placed on spousal support. However, typically, if the recipient remarries or either the payor or the recipient dies, support will end, although in the case of unexpected death of the payor, a life insurance policy could be used to address that possibility. Divorcing spouses should also know that spousal support can be modified later, although changes require more court time.
What if the payor does not or cannot pay?
The payor spouse may fail to honor a court ruling for various reasons, but the divorce agreement may stipulate other methods that will ensure the recipient continues to receive payments. For example, the payor may be required to purchase life insurance that would cover payments in the event of the payor’s death, and this requirement may be stated in the agreement. The divorce agreement may also state that the payor must purchase disability insurance. Without this insurance, if at any point, the payor cannot work due to disability or injury, he or she could request a modification of spousal support.
Anyone who has experienced divorce knows that each step of the process comes with some degree of stress, including discussions around spousal support. However, divorcing individuals can better prepare themselves by taking time to learn the facts. Tennessee couples looking to begin the divorce process can arrange to meet with an experienced family law attorney who can answer their questions and guide them through what can be a difficult time.