Crystal Wright | November 25, 2022 | Spousal Support
Some states base alimony on the duration of the marriage. However, there is no minimum mandatory time that you have to be married to get alimony in Georgia. In other words, Georgia does not have a standard formula to determine whether you receive spousal support in a divorce action.
The general rule of thumb is that short-term marriages typically do not result in alimony payments. Courts often grant alimony for marriages lasting ten or more years. However, that is not always the case because alimony could be denied even though the spouses were married for 30 years.
Is Alimony Guaranteed in Georgia?
Alimony is financial support payments from one spouse to another spouse. The payments may be ordered when the parties separate or divorce. Spousal support is not a legal right in Georgia.
Before alimony may be granted, the judge must determine that a spouse needs financial support. In addition, the other spouse must be able to pay support payments. Otherwise, the decision of whether to grant alimony and how much the alimony payments will be is up to the judge to determine after hearing the evidence in the case.
What Factors Do Judges Consider When Awarding Alimony in Georgia?
The duration of a marriage is just one factor a judge might consider when awarding alimony payments. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated §19-6-5 lists seven factors judges consider when determining the amount of alimony:
- The standard of living the spouses enjoyed during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The physical and emotional condition of the spouses and their ages;
- Each spouse’s financial resources;
- The time it would take a spouse to obtain sufficient training or education to obtain suitable employment;
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including child care, household services, and supporting the other spouse’s career; and,
- Each spouse’s financial condition, including earning capacity, separate assets, and liabilities.
However, the statute also allows the judge to consider other factors that the judge deems relevant, proper, and equitable.
The code also provides that a party is not entitled to alimony if the party’s desertion or adultery caused the divorce. Furthermore, the judge may consider evidence of the conduct of the spouse’s toward each other when deciding whether to award alimony.
Does the Length of the Marriage Impact the Type of Alimony Awarded?
The duration of a marriage is just one factor the judge considers when determining the type of alimony to award. Georgia has four basic types of alimony:
A judge might grant temporary alimony while the parties pursue a separation or divorce action. A spouse may petition the court asking for a temporary hearing to decide issues such as child custody, alimony, child support, and visitation. The judge enters a temporary ruling that remains in place until modified by the court or the court enters a final divorce order.
Temporary alimony can help a spouse who has never worked outside the home or has limited income transition into a single-income home. Temporary alimony might end when the judge issues the final divorce decree, or the judge might transition temporary alimony into periodic or permanent alimony.
Permanent alimony might be for a spouse’s lifetime, or the alimony payment may be long-term. However, permanent does not mean forever. If the spouse remarries, the alimony payments end.
Judges do not award permanent alimony without a valid reason. Some reasons for permanent alimony could include a spouse’s disability or chronic illness. A judge might grant permanent alimony for long-term marriages, especially when the person spent most of the marriage as the non-income earning spouse.
Periodic alimony is paid for a definite period. The judge might order monthly payments for five or ten years. The payments may vary in amount, especially if the period payments are to allow a spouse time to obtain employment to support themselves.
Lump Sum Alimony
The judge may order a spouse to pay a one-time sum to the other spouse. The lump sum amount might not be cash. Instead, it could be represented as interest on the marital home or the payment of marital debts.
Can Alimony Payments Be Modified in Georgia?
Either spouse can petition the court to modify alimony payments. However, the courts only grant modifications for a substantial change in circumstances. For example, the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a romantic partner.
The judge might modify alimony payments if the paying spouse becomes disabled or seriously ill. The courts consider each petition on its merits.
Talk with a Lawrenceville spousal support lawyer if you believe your alimony payments are incorrect. However, do not stop paying alimony payments without a court order. Failing to pay alimony in Georgia could have serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and wage garnishments.
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.