Alimony is a court-ordered payment from one person to another, either in a lump sum or periodic payments. Both the giver and the recipient are either in divorce proceedings (temporary alimony) or are already divorced (permanent alimony). The purpose of alimony is for the richer spouse to provide for the financial needs of the poorer spouse. Georgia family law includes statutory authority for the revision of alimony, meaning that it can be modified or terminated under certain circumstances.

Although alimony is traditionally thought of as a sum of money given by a man to a woman, it can apply to either gender, depending on who is in the more prosperous financial position. Alimony and modification of alimony apply to same-sex marriage as well as traditional marriage. Georgia does not recognize ”palimony” (alimony between unmarried cohabitating couples).  

Temporary Alimony vs. Permanent Alimony 

Temporary alimony ends when the court issues the divorce decree. Permanent alimony, by contrast, is longer-term but not necessarily for life. A judge might order “permanent” alimony for four years, for example, for ten years or, in unusual cases, for life. Lifetime alimony might be appropriate, for example, if one ex-spouse is disabled and cannot work.

Periodic Payments vs. Lump Sum Payments

Alimony can be classified as periodic or lump sum. An example of periodic alimony might be $2,000 per month for four years. An example of lump sum alimony, by contrast, might be a single payment of $96,000. Although these two payments are the same amount of money, one is expressed as periodic alimony, while the other is expressed as lump sum alimony. 

Lump sum alimony is based on a pre-set total amount of money, while periodic payments are based on a pre-set time period. 

Marital Settlement Agreements

It is entirely possible to set the terms of a divorce through a marital settlement agreement negotiated by divorcing spouses. The divorcing spouses can agree on the distribution of property, the amount of alimony, and other issues. The court must approve terms that affect third parties, such as child custody and child support. Marital settlement agreements can include alimony issues.

Modification of Alimony

The general principle is that you can modify alimony if there is a significant change in the circumstances that justified an award of alimony in the first place. If you seek modification of alimony but cannot prove it, the family court might order you to pay your ex-spouse’s legal fees.

Justifications for Modification

You can seek modification of alimony under the following circumstances:

  • The receiving ex-spouse cohabitates with someone else and engages in a sexual relationship, the sharing of expenses, or both.
  • The receiving spouse’s financial situation takes a dramatic turn for the better.
  • The providing spouse’s finances take a dramatic turn for the worse.
  • Other circumstances where justice demands modification of alimony.

No matter how much circumstances change, one spouse must apply for modification of alimony, and the family court must approve the request.

Waiver of the Right To Modify Alimony

You can waive the right to modify alimony, but it’s usually not a good idea. You would waive the right to modify alimony in the marital settlement agreement itself. Once you do that, you cannot seek modification of alimony unless you can convince your spouse to consent to modify the marital settlement agreement.

You’re Going To Need an Experienced Family Lawyer To Seek Modification of Alimony

Yes, you have a constitutional right to represent yourself in divorce proceedings. This is one right you should not even attempt to exercise, especially if alimony is or might be involved. “Going it alone” without a lawyer could end up costing you a lot of money. An experienced attorney in this area of the law can help to convince the family court to see things your way.

Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.