Alimony is where one party makes support payments to the other following a divorce. Under Georgia law, an award of alimony is not automatic, but either spouse may request support from the other. In some cases, the parties are amicable and agree between themselves about alimony payments. When they cannot agree, the court will decide if the requesting party is eligible to receive alimony and, if so, the amount and the duration of the award.
A Georgia court will not order alimony to a person who either abandoned the family or committed adultery. In other cases, the court may order either rehabilitative or permanent alimony after considering all relevant factors.
When the Parties Consent to Alimony
When the two spouses agree that one will pay alimony to the other, and can also agree on all relevant terms, such as the amount that will be paid and the duration of the payments, they put their agreement in writing and file it with the court. If the court accepts their agreement, it becomes part of the court orders in the final divorce decree. The parties will be bound by their agreement and it will be enforceable the same as any other court order.
Rehabilitative or Permanent Alimony
When alimony is requested, the court evaluates each case individually depending on the needs of the requesting spouse and ability of the other spouse to pay. Alimony generally falls in to two categories. Rehabilitative alimony, which is paid for a set period of time to allow the requesting spouse time to complete training or education in order to be able to support themselves. Permanent alimony may be awarded after a long-term marriage. `
When the spouses cannot agree on whether alimony should be paid, how much should be paid and for how long, the court will consider the following factors in making an alimony order.
- The length of the marriage.
- The length of time one party may need in order to become gainfully employed.
- Whether one party contributed time and effort toward the professional career of the other.
- Whether the party requesting alimony gave up a career in order to take care of the home and children.
- The age and health of each party.
- The standard of living each enjoyed during the marriage.
- The financial resources of each party including property that was divided during the divorce settlement.
- Future earning capacity of each party.
- Ability of one party to pay support to the other.
- Any other factor the court deems relevant.
If permanent alimony is ordered, unless the parties have agreed to a different arrangement, it will terminate if the receiving spouse remarries. Permanent alimony may also terminate if, according to a Georgia statute, the receiving spouse dwells “together continuously and openly in a meretricious relationship with another person, regardless of the sex of the other person.”