Alimony in Georgia
Alimony in Georgia is not regulated by any specific rule or regulation. It is the court in equity that will determine the amount and length of alimony. This means that the court will consider all of the financial needs and abilities of the parties and make a determination of what is the need of the requesting party, what is the ability to pay off the other party and for how long should this alimony be paid. Very rarely do courts award the traditional lifetime or permanent alimony many people fear or expect based on the past history of the courts and the issues of alimony. Today the issue of spousal support is usually dealt with on a temporary or transitional basis and limited to a certain period of time.
Factors determining Alimony
The most significant factor when determining the award of any spousal support is the length of the marriage. If you were married for a short time your chances of receiving alimony significantly decrease based on the years of the marriage. A marriage of three years or less is rarely awarded alimony, a marriage of ten years or less may be awarded alimony but the amount will be reduced and the period of alimony is usually about a third of the length of the marriage. This is not a set rule but most courts tend to award approximately one third the length of the marriage when determining how long alimony should last.
However, if the requesting spouse has employment the ability to make an argument based on need is substantially reduced. The court looks at the needs of the requesting spouse and weighs those needs against the ability of the other spouse to pay. So, if you are each making $50,000.00 per year, or somewhat equal income, then it is unlikely alimony will be awarded. If the requesting spouse is making $50,000.00 per year and the paying spouse is making $180,000.00 per year then there may be alimony. This determination will be weighed against any child support and other income or benefits received.
Another factor to consider is fault grounds in divorce how they affect alimony. If the requesting spouse is committing adultery and the adultery is the cause of the divorce and an actual sexual relationship can be proved then adultery is not awarded in Georgia.
Rarely the courts do grant permanent or long term spousal support and this is usually reserved for special circumstances. If there is a long term marriage and the requesting spouse has been dependent on the other spouse for support for these years the court will grant permanent alimony and not abandon the requesting spouse to the retirement years without income or employment. However, the court will consider the requesting spouse’s receipt of pensions and/or other retirement assets.
Other considerations will include disabilities or serious medical conditions for which the requesting spouse needs financial support. The court will not abandon this spouse’s financial needs; however, the court will still consider the ability of the other spouse to pay.
Modifying Alimony in Georgia
Certain alimony can be modified in Georgia and all alimony will be modified if the receiving spouse dies or remarries. If the receiving spouse cohabitates with another and shares the burden of the living expenses modification may be possible as the need is reduced. Loss of income by the paying spouse will also be grounds for a modification. If the receiving spouse finds adequate employment transitional alimony may be modified.
Alimony in Georgia has many abstract arguments as well as concrete issues that the court must consider when determining the amount and length of alimony and the advice and representation of a local Attorney is necessary when making these arguments. If you live in the Atlanta area, feel free to contact our Law Firm. We charge flat fees and our experienced Attorney Sean R. Whitworth has an excellent reputation for fighting and winning cases.