If I was a stay-at-home mom, what are my rights to alimony now that our children are grown?

I “chose” not to work in my 32 year marriage and raised our 5 children (now grown and out of the home). I have a degree in social work. Do I have to go back to work, or can I just make him pay me alimony/spousal support? My spouse owns a business and has for 7 years. Can I also get awarded monies from his future earnings?

Asked on November 11, 2011 under Family Law, Tennessee


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You chose not to work outside the house, you mean.  Raising 5 children is no easy task and it is seen as just as valuable as being out in the workforce.  To some of us who recognize what the task involves even more valuable. 

It is my understanding that Tennessee has a specific statute that sets the guidelines for spousal support. It gives the court discretion where it finds that one party is economically disadvantaged relative to the other party. There are many types of alimony available but your legislature has a preference that alimony for an economically disadvantaged spouse should be "rehabilitative." This type of alimony awards support for a set period of time in order to rehabilitate the spouse’s earning potential to a point where they are no longer disadvantaged relative to the other spouse.

The courts consider many factors in awarding alimony like your earning capacity, you and your spouse's educational level, the length of your marriage, your age and yes, your contribution as a home maker to raising your kids.  You need to speak with an attorney here as soon as you can.  Good luck. 

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