Will You Owe Your Spouse Alimony After a Divorce?

Spousal Support is Not a Right in Georgia

Many people who are considering a divorce or who are already going through the process of divorce wonder if they will be required to pay alimony to their spouse. While both parents are legally obligated to support their children when a divorce occurs, there are no state requirements for spousal support (alimony) in Georgia. Rather than being a “right,” the court may award spousal support in certain situations. It is important to understand that an alimony award is not based upon gender, but is instead based upon the court’s finding that one spouse has a demonstrated need for financial assistance and the other spouse has the ability to pay the amount.

Types of Alimony in Georgia

When spousal support is awarded, the paying spouse will typically ask, “How long will I have to pay alimony?” The answer to this question depends upon several factors, including the type of alimony that has been awarded. In Georgia, there are generally three categories of alimony:

  1. Temporary Alimony. Sometimes called “rehabilitative alimony,” temporary alimony is money that is paid to a spouse for a limited period of time. In some cases, a judge may award temporary alimony to a spouse while a divorce action is pending. For example, if the husband was the sole breadwinner for the family, alimony may be awarded to the wife so that she can take care of the children and pay the household bills while the divorce is pending.
  2. Permanent Alimony. Although rare, in some cases a judge may award permanent alimony to a spouse. Situations where permanent alimony may be deemed appropriate include cases where a spouse has been married for a long time without being in the job force or cases where health issues or advanced age may prevent a spouse from finding employment.
  3. Lump Sum Alimony. This type of spousal support generally involves a one-time, non-modifiable payment to a spouse. However, in certain cases, the lump sum can be paid in installments over time.

It is important to understand that even if a judge has granted alimony in your divorce, the alimony payment can be modified or eliminated when financial circumstances change. For instance, if the paying spouse loses his or her job, the alimony payments may be changed. Additionally, if the receiving spouse decides to cohabitate with someone else, the paying spouse can file a petition to modify the alimony award. If, however, the alimony was paid in a lump sum, the award is generally non-modifiable.

Alimony Calculations in Georgia

A calculation of spousal support in Georgia is based upon both the financial need of the receiving spouse and the financial ability of the paying spouse. Georgia alimony calculations are made on a case-by-case basis and, unlike in cases of child support, the state does not provide a Georgia alimony calculator. Section 19-6-5 of The Official Code of Georgia Annotated sets forth several factors that a court can consider in making an alimony award, including:

  • The standard of living the parties enjoyed while being married
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The financial resources of both parties to the marriage
  • The amount of time either party may need to acquire sufficient education or training to secure a job
  • The contributions each party made to the marriage
  • The financial conditions of the parties (separate estates, earning capacities and fixed liabilities)

Consult an Atlanta Family Law Attorney

For over 28 years and 10,000 cases of local Georgia divorce experience, Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor is recognized as one of the most reputable collaborative family law practices in Atlanta. With veteran, core, services such as child custody & support, alimony & spousal support, paternity and father’s rights, adoption, domestic partnerships and grandparent’s rights, the SM&P approach has proven to be respectful, attentive and resolution-driven. To schedule a consultation with Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor click the button below, or call (678) 971-3413.