Georgia’s four types of alimony are temporary, permanent, periodic, and lump sum alimony. Each type of spousal support is based on different criteria. Alimony payments may be direct cash payments to the ex-spouse, or the alimony may be paid in non-cash payments, such as making mortgage payments. 

What Are the Types of Spousal Support Granted in Georgia Divorces?

Alimony or spousal support is the financial support paid by one spouse to another spouse during and after a divorce. Unlike child support, Georgia law does not require a spouse to pay alimony. Therefore, spousal support is not a right, but the law does allow judges to order alimony payments when the circumstances justify an award. 

Spousal support may be temporary or permanent. The circumstances and facts of the case determine which type of alimony the judge orders. 

Periodic Alimony

Periodic alimony is one of the most common forms of spousal support awarded in Georgia divorces. The court orders a spouse to pay monthly payments to their ex-partner for a specific period. The judge may order the payments to decrease over time as the receiving spouse develops resources and skills to support themselves. 

Generally, periodic alimony ceases if the receiving spouse remarries or cohabits with another partner. 

Lump-Sum Alimony

Generally, a spouse pays lump-sum alimony in one payment. The court does not condition lump-sum alimony upon cohabitation or remarriage. In some cases, the judge may award lump sum alimony paid in installments, such as four installments paid over a year.

Permanent Alimony

Long-term alimony does not necessarily mean that the ex-spouse receives alimony for the rest of their lifetime, but it could. As with periodic alimony, permanent alimony terminates upon remarriage or cohabitation. 

The court rarely awards permanent alimony except in long-term marriages, extreme financial disparity, or a spouse’s inability to become self-supporting. 

Temporary Alimony 

Temporary alimony (pendente lite alimony) is generally awarded during the divorce proceeding to address an unfair financial situation. This type of alimony terminates when the judge issues the final divorce decree.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Some judges may also grant rehabilitative alimony. This type of spousal support provides financial assistance while a spouse seeks education, training, or skills required to obtain a job. The alimony is temporary and only for a specific period of time.

What Factors Do Judges Consider When Determining Alimony?

Georgia Code §19-6-5 lists the factors judges must consider when determining whether to award alimony and the amount of alimony to be paid. 

Those factors are:

  • The standard of living the spouses established during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The emotional health, age, and physical condition of the spouses
  • Each spouse’s financial resources
  • The time it would take either spouse to obtain the training and education to acquire appropriate employment, if applicable 
  • The contribution by each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking services, career-building, child care, and education 
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity, fixed liabilities, and separate property
  • All other relevant factors the judge decides is proper and fair to decide issues related to alimony

The court must determine a financial need for alimony. 

Unlike child support, Georgia has not enacted guidelines for calculating alimony payments. Therefore, the type of alimony and the amount of alimony payments remains entirely within the judge’s discretion.

However, Georgia Code §19-6-1 states that a spouse is not entitled to alimony if that spouse’s adultery or desertion caused the breakup of the marriage. The spouse alleging adultery or desertion must prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. The code states that in determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court “shall consider” evidence of each party’s conduct toward the other. 

Can the Court Change Alimony Payments or Duration After a Final Divorce Decree?

Either spouse can petition the court to modify alimony payments. Alimony may be modified when there is a substantial change in a party’s income or financial status. 

For example, an ex-spouse receiving alimony obtains a high-paying job. As a result, the court might modify alimony payments or cease spousal support. 

The court may also terminate alimony payments when the receiving spouse lives with a romantic or sexual partner. Some spouses believe they can continue receiving alimony payments if they do not marry their new partner. However, the judge may terminate alimony if the paying spouse proves that the ex-spouse is continuously cohabitating with a sexual or romantic partner.

Spousal support can have a profound impact on each spouse’s future. A Lawrenceville spousal support lawyer can advocate for your best interests throughout the divorce proceedings to ensure you pay or receive a fair amount of spousal support.

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.