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How Does Georgia Typically Handle Alimony Requests?

Alimony is money paid to a spouse for support. Also called spousal support or maintenance, alimony is a relic of a time when the husband was typically the breadwinner, and the wife was typically a housewife. In that case, without employment skills to fall back on, the wife would be at a significant disadvantage in a divorce. Thus, spousal support was usually provided by the husband.

Times have changed. In Georgia, spousal support is only granted where the court deems it necessary. There are limited situations where a court grants maintenance and, more often than not, it will only be a temporary measure.

That’s not to say, however, that you can’t fight for support and win. In this article, Family Matters Law Group discusses the basics of Georgia alimony law and lets you know the factors that a judge will take into account when making a decision.

Types of Alimony

Alimony is designed to make the playing field in a divorce more equal. Usually, whichever spouse is the higher income earner must assist the lower income earner with necessary financial support in order to make sure the lifestyle that both parties are used to continues. The key word here is necessary.

Alimony

There are two kinds of spousal support available in Georgia: rehabilitative and permanent. Rehabilitative support is short-term support that enables a spouse to get back on their feet. An example of this would be a spouse who primarily stayed at home and needs to reenter the workforce. In this case, a judge would grant maintenance until the spouse finishes retraining or reenters the workforce.

Permanent alimony is long-term support. A judge may require this if a spouse has significant physical or mental health issues that require long-term support. Keep in mind that in Georgia, it is rare that permanent maintenance ends up being truly “permanent.” Many courts frown on granting significant long-term maintenance, preferring to award rehabilitative support instead.

Spousal support payments end when the recipient either remarries or dies.

Factors Affecting an Alimony Decision

The biggest factor that affects spousal support is whether one spouse has a significant financial need and whether the other spouse is in a position to make payments. In Georgia, there is no set formula for calculating maintenance. The judge makes a subjective judgment after hearing from both attorneys. Here is yet another example of why you need an experienced attorney in a divorce case, as the judge has great leeway in whether to award support and in what amount.

The judge will take into account quite a few factors before making a spousal support decision. Some of the factors a judge may include are:

  • Standard of living each spouse is accustomed to
  • Amount of time the marriage lasted
  • Financial condition of each spouse, including current income, debts and any separate financial resources
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage (i.e. was there a primary breadwinner, was there one spouse who largely raised the children, did one spouse pay for education or training for the other, etc.)
  • Length of time required for a spouse to find employment or retrain

One other notable item that a judge may consider is what role each spouse played in breaking up the marriage. For example, if you were the primary stay-at-home spouse (and thus, would be entitled to some spousal support), but it was your affair that broke up the marriage or you abandoned the family, you can count on not receiving payments.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help

If you are considering asking for maintenance, you definitely want to have an experienced attorney in your corner that can fight for your best interests in front of a judge. At Family Matters Law Group, we specialize in successful litigation in spousal support cases.

If you are in Henry, Clayton, Fayette or another metro Atlanta county and need an attorney that can handle an maintenance request, look no further. Simply contact us using our online form and come in for a consultation. We can explain further the alimony request rules in Georgia and fight for your case.

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