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.
Determining Spousal Support
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
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 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 against the other.
Some other important alimony facts include the following:
- 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.
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In Atlanta and Georgia, alimony is not guaranteed and the process is somewhat complex. That's why it's important for our Atlanta-based attorneys 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, an experienced divorce lawyer at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor can assist you. Call our offices at 678-971-3413 or contact us online.
If the court has already issued an alimony decision, don't worry. We can also help guide you through the appeals process.