In Georgia, post-divorce spousal support, which is often referred to as “alimony” or “separate maintenance,” can be awarded for a number of reasons. Unlike child support, there are no state requirements for spousal support awards in divorce. In general, it is intended to take into account the contributions of spouses, either male or female, who have cared for the children or supported the careers of their working spouses.
In Georgia, alimony is not a right, but it can be appropriate in certain situations and awarded over time or in one lump sum after a divorce settlement. In order to determine eligibility, courts consider a number of issues, including the needs, income, and assets of each spouse.
How Does a Judge Determine Georgia Spousal Support Levels?
When determining whether alimony is to be awarded, courts look at a variety of criteria, including:
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple
- How long the marriage lasted
- The income and assets of each spouse, including retirement accounts
- The earning potential of each spouse
- How long would it take to retrain the non-working spouse
- The age of each spouse at the end of the divorce
- How well the couple treated each other
Types of Alimony in Georgia
Many people don’t know that alimony payments may be temporary or permanent, and they can change during the divorce process and over time. Alimony can be structured in a few ways:
- Temporary Alimony: Alimony you can receive as a non-working spouse when you file a petition for divorce. It might be categorized as rehabilitative alimony, designed to help a non-working spouse gain job skills and train in a new field if necessary. This form of temporary alimony ends at a specified time or when specific goals are met.
- Permanent Alimony: Commonly awarded only to spouses who cannot work because of illness or disability, or spouses involved in a long-term marriage. It typically continues until death or remarriage.
- Lump Sum Alimony: Provides a one-time, non-modifiable lump sum amount.
- Periodic Alimony: Works best for people when they can’t pay a lump sum. Plus, people receiving alimony often tend to prefer the regular “income” of a periodic alimony payment.
- Payment of Divorce Attorney Fees: Evens the playing field between spouses during court proceedings so that one spouse is not at an unfair advantage in paying legal bills over the other.
Other important GA alimony facts include:
- Unlike child support, no state requirements for spousal support awards in divorce exist.
- Alimony is generally not available in situations where both spouses worked during the marriage and can support themselves.
- If granted, alimony is enforceable by either an action for contempt, or by garnishment and execution on property.
- In cases where alimony is considered taxable income for the spouse receiving payments, alimony may also be taken as a tax deduction for the spouse making payments.
In Atlanta and all of Georgia alimony is not guaranteed, and the process is somewhat complex. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Atlanta divorce attorney to work on your behalf to maximize your chances of achieving your alimony goals.
Whether you are seeking alimony in your divorce or opposing it, Atlanta divorce lawyer Nancy Ghertner can assist you. Call our Atlanta family law firm to set up an appointment for a consultation. We are located in Sandy Springs at the top of the Perimeter.
If the court has already issued an alimony decision, don’t worry. Nancy Ghertner can also help guide you through the appeals process.