How Is Alimony Determined In A Georgia Divorce?

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Answered by: Samuel (Sam) Siemon

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Whether your marriage lasted decades or several years, when you and your spouse make the decision to divorce, the process to divide your household can become complicated. Both spouses wish to protect their financial security and stability after the divorce. In doing so, disputes involving alimony or spousal support can become complex and contentious.

Georgia determines whether to award alimony in a divorce based on a set of factors, which consider details of the marriage, the resources of both parties, the conditions of both parties and other relevant factors. The amount and duration of payments are only determined after the court decides to award alimony to one spouse. While alimony on a permanent basis is not necessarily uncommon, courts most often award alimony on a temporary basis.

How Georgia Courts Determine Whether Alimony Is Warranted

Despite popular belief, courts do not grant alimony in every divorce. Rather, the court must first decide based on eight factors from Georgia Code § 19-6-1 on whether to award spousal support to one spouse. These factors include:

  • The standard of living set throughout the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • Age as well as mental and physical conditions of both parties
  • Financial resources of both parties
  • Time for either party to obtain education or training necessary for employment
  • Contribution of each party to the marriage
  • The earning capacity of both parties
  • Other factors that the court finds relevant to consider

In considering each party’s contributions to the marriage, the court examines both financial contributions from working spouses and contributions of other nature from spouses who were homemakers. In situations, where one spouse was the sole income earner, courts consider the sacrifices the other spouse may have made to support their spouse in advancing their career, as well as their own contributions as a stay-at-home spouse or parent.

The Duration And Amount Of Alimony Payments

When the court decides that one spouse must pay alimony to the other, the next step consists of determining both the duration and amount of such payments. Unlike child support payments, courts do not utilize predetermined guidelines to calculate these figures.

There are two main categories of alimony: permanent and temporary. Courts typically only award permanent alimony in specific situations, such as when the spouses were married for an extended period of time, when one spouse abandons the other, when one spouse is unable to work due to health reasons and more. The more likely option is temporary alimony. Courts award this on a limited basis, often only through the duration of the divorce process. Temporary alimony can also extend for a short period after the divorce is final. The purpose of this is to give the individual an opportunity to become financially stable and find suitable employment.

The amount of payments, whether for permanent or temporary alimony, differs depending on the unique situation of the divorcing couple. Because the amount is discretionary, Georgia individuals facing divorce and prioritizing either pursuing or opposing alimony can benefit from discussing their concerns with an attorney to learn what is realistically possible.

Even permanent alimony may not last forever. This form of alimony can terminate upon the remarriage of the alimony recipient or death. Either party may request a modification if a qualifying change surfaces after the awarding of alimony. The receiving spouse may also request that the court enforces the alimony order if the payor refuses to pay or is behind on payments.

Alimony can be a tense topic for both potential payors and receivers. Both parties wish to start their post-divorce lives off in a comfortable and financially secure position. An attorney can assist to pursue what you wish and protect your future.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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