Divorce and alimony in Georgia
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Divorce and alimony in Georgia

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2023 | Divorce |

There is no shortage of issues to argue about in divorce, but some of the most contentious and longest-lasting arguments in Georgia divorce concern alimony.

Alimony consists of payments from one ex-spouse to the other. The amount may be determined by a court or agreed upon by the parties. Either way, the money an ex-spouse receives in alimony comes in addition to anything they received in the divorce settlement, and is entirely separate from any child support payments.

Starting the process

Courts don’t automatically award alimony. Generally, one party must request it. If the couple settles their divorce out of court, they negotiate the terms of the alimony.

If a court resolves the divorce, the judge determines whether alimony is necessary, and if so, how much the total payment should be by considering a list of factors, including:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage
  • The extent to which each party contributed to the standard of living during the marriage
  • The age, health, earning potential and resources of the parties

If the court determines that one party will be severely disadvantaged without alimony, it may order the other party to pay.

For example, in a marriage where one spouse worked full-time at a lucrative career while the other stayed home to care for the couple’s children, a divorce can leave the stay-at-home spouse at a severe disadvantage. After the divorce, the high-earning spouse can continue working and earning money as before, but the stay-at-home spouse will have to get a job.

Finding a job can be hard for a spouse who gave up their career in order to care for the children. And, if they continue to be the primary caregiver for the children, finding full-time employment may be impractical. In any case, it will be nearly impossible for them to earn enough money to enjoy anything near the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage.

How long does an alimony order last?

In some cases, a Georgia court will order one party to pay the other alimony while the divorce is still pending. This is known as temporary alimony. Any alimony order that goes into effect after the divorce is called permanent alimony.

However, despite its name, an obligation to pay permanent alimony doesn’t necessarily last forever. In some cases, an alimony order will have a built-in expiration date. In others, the parties or the court may tie the order to a milestone, such as the dependent spouse’s graduation from college or other training.

In any case, an alimony order generally ends when the receiving spouse remarries.

While the arguments about it can sometimes be intense, when handled properly alimony can be crucial to helping disadvantaged spouses.