If you have recently divorced or separated from your spouse or are considering doing so, then you're likely thinking about alimony payments. Alimony is the financial support that one spouse pays to the other, with the higher-earning spouse typically paying the lower-earning spouse every month. Alimony payments can take place both during and after a divorce.
Alimony is not a guaranteed right in the state of Georgia and is generally not available in situations where both spouses can adequately support themselves financially. Additionally, abandonment or circumstances relating to adultery can disqualify a spouse from receiving alimony entirely. Whether you receive alimony and how much you will receive is up to the discretion of the courts. On top of that, the process of determining alimony can be complicated. If you are petitioning to receive alimony, you will want an experienced family lawyer on your side.Types of Alimony in Georgia
There are several types of alimony that can be rewarded in Georgia. Temporary alimony is awarded while the divorce suit is pending. This type of alimony is meant to allow a spouse that was financially dependent on the other spouse a means of paying legal expenses related to the divorce, such as attorneys' fees and litigation expenses. Temporary alimony lasts only until the final decree of divorce is entered, although the court may order that alimony payments continue afterward.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a short period of time, usually in order to help a financially dependent spouse pursue educational opportunities or training that will allow them to compete in the job market. This is especially helpful for a spouse who had chosen to become a stay-at-home parent. If a stay-at-home parent has small children, rehabilitative alimony can also let them stay home until their children reach school age.
Permanent alimony, on the other hand, is meant to last for a longer period of time. Although the prospect of permanent alimony might sound daunting for those required to pay it, it is rarely truly permanent and usually ends after a set number of years. Truly permanent alimony is typically reserved for cases where the spouse petitioning for alimony is unable to find employment and support themselves due to advanced age or significant health problems.
While most alimony payments are periodic, it may be possible to pay your alimony in one lump sum. This allows the person paying alimony to limit contact with their ex-spouse and fulfill their duty to pay alimony with a one-time payment. Note that a lump sum alimony payment cannot be changed or modified in any way after the fact.How is Alimony Determined?
When determining whether to award alimony or not, the courts will look at several factors. This includes:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The couple's standard of living during the marriage
- How well the couple treated each other during their marriage
- The debts, financial situation, and earning capacity of the paying spouse
- The age, earning potential, and physical condition of the receiving spouse
- How long it will take the receiving spouse to re-enter the job market if they are unemployed
There is no set formula for determining the exact amount of spousal support received in Georgia. The amount of alimony awarded to one spouse is ultimately up to the discretion of the court, based on the perceived needs of the receiving spouse and the other spouse's perceived ability to pay. That's why you want an experienced family law attorney who can help you negotiate the amount of alimony you should be rewarded or required to pay, depending on your circumstances.
The process of determining alimony can be complex, especially as dual income households become more commonplace. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you are facing an alimony-related issue. Our family lawyers can help you prepare for the process of negotiating alimony and help you protect your financial well-being.