When parties divorce in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the court may have included an order that one party pays the other alimony or spousal support. If that is the case, then the party ordered to pay alimony must make the payments as detailed in the court order. Failure to make the payments required by the order may expose the non-paying party to serious consequences and penalties. 

How Is Alimony or Spousal Support Ordered in Gwinnett County, Georgia?

In Georgia, spousal support is intended to help support a spouse after a divorce. According to Georgia law, courts may order spousal support temporarily during divorce proceedings (so that the spouse asking for spousal support has financial support during the divorce) or as a part of a final divorce order. However, Georgia courts are not required to order spousal support.

There is no calculator for spousal support. Instead, when ordering spousal support, Georgia courts will review multiple factors such as:

  • The parties’ standard of living while living together
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of the receiving spouse
  • The receiving spouse’s earning potential
  • The physical condition of the receiving spouse
  • The paying spouse’s earning capacity
  • The paying spouse’s financial situation, including debts

After considering various factors, Georgia courts use their discretion to make a spousal maintenance order.

What Will Happen if I Don’t Pay Alimony on an Order Made by a Gwinnett County Court?

If you fail to pay or fall behind on your spousal support payments as ordered by a Georgia court in Gwinnett County, the court might find you in contempt. Contempt means that you willfully or intentionally did not follow the court’s order. If the court finds you in contempt, it might enforce the order. To enforce the order, a court might:

  • Order that you pay all outstanding spousal support payments;
  • Add interest on the outstanding spousal support payments;
  • Force you to sell some of your property to satisfy the outstanding spousal support payments;
  • Order you to pay your ex-spouse’s attorney’s fees and the court’s costs;
  • Garnish your wages;
  • Take you into custody or jail until you agree to pay the outstanding spousal support payments.

Two of the more serious ways a court may enforce a spousal support order is through garnishment or jail. With a garnishment, the court can order your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and send it directly to your former spouse. Under Georgia law, a court can garnish up to 50 percent of your paycheck to satisfy outstanding spousal support payments. 

Georgia courts usually reserve a jail sentence for spouses that repeatedly fail to pay spousal support. Even then, the court may order that you participate in a diversion program, where you can work while serving your jail time. This program allows you to pay off any outstanding spouse support payments faster. 

Should I Consult With a Lawyer If I Am Behind on Spousal Support Payments?

Alimony or spousal support law is a complex area of family and divorce law in Georgia. Failure to pay spousal support can also expose you to serious consequences and penalties, including jail or garnishment of your wages. A lawyer can help explain the situation, the law, and your options. For example, you may be able to modify or change the spousal support order. It might also be possible to show that your failure to pay spousal support was not willful, which might help avoid a court finding you in contempt. 

Contact the Spousal Support 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.