If you’re facing a divorce in Georgia, chances are you and your spouse will need to address the topic of alimony and spousal support. Whether you are the person who will be making or receiving payments, it is important to have a firm understanding of the topic at hand.
How Alimony Works in Georgia
Alimony in Georgia, refers to the financial support that one spouse may be required to provide to the other following a divorce. Alimony in Georgia isn’t a guaranteed part of every divorce settlement. Instead, it’s based on a number of factors that the court considers, ensuring fairness and equity in each unique situation. The court looks at the length of the marriage, the financial status of each spouse, their respective earning capacities, and even the standard of living established during the marriage. Additionally, each spouse’s age and physical and emotional health plays a role. It’s important to understand that alimony in Georgia can be temporary or permanent, depending on these factors. Temporary alimony might be granted during the divorce process to help one spouse get by until the divorce is finalized. Permanent alimony, on the other hand, is more long-term and is typically awarded in cases of long marriages or when one spouse might have a significant need, such as a health issue that prevents them from becoming fully self-sufficient. It is important to know that alimony is not always a fixed amount and can be modified under certain circumstances, like a significant change in income or marital status of either party.
Is Alimony Different Than Spousal Support in Georgia?
Alimony and spousal support in Georgia are two terms that are often used interchangeably to refer to payments made from one spouse to another after a divorce or separation. However, there is a subtle difference between the two. Alimony refers to the payments made by one spouse to another after the dissolution of the marriage and is often awarded to the spouse who is economically dependent on the other spouse. It is intended to help that spouse maintain the same standard of living that he or she had during the marriage.
Spousal support, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses both alimony and other types of payments made to a former spouse. Spousal support can include payments for child support, as well as payments for the maintenance and support of the former spouse. In general, alimony is used to refer specifically to payments made to a former spouse for his or her own support, while spousal support can include a wider range of payments.
Understanding the Difference Between Temporary Support and Permanent Support
After a divorce or separation, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to make payments to the other spouse. In the state of Georgia, there are two main types of alimony: temporary and permanent.
Temporary alimony, also known as temporary spousal support, is awarded to a spouse during the divorce proceedings to allow that spouse to contest the issues in a pending divorce. This is usually paid in cash installments but can also take the form of payments to creditors or the use of the marital home, for example. Temporary payments are generally intended to continue until the divorce is concluded, at which point a permanent alimony determination can be made.
In contrast, permanent alimony is awarded on a long-term basis and is based on the needs of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. Although the courts use the term “permanent,” it is rare that alimony is awarded indefinitely. Georgia courts take into account a variety of factors when making their determinations, including but not limited to:
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The health and age of each party
- The assets of each party
- Present earnings and future earning capacity of each spouse
- The contributions of each party to the homemaking, child raising, and career building of the other party
Another important factor that courts consider when making their determinations is whether the spouse seeking alimony put his or her education or career on hold for the benefit of the family. If so, the court may make their award to enable that spouse to acquire education or training to find employment. Additionally, the court will consider the family’s liabilities and who will assume responsibility for the payment of these liabilities.
It is important to note that there is no formula for determining the amount or duration of alimony payments in Georgia. Rather, the court will evaluate all relevant factors and make a determination based on the unique circumstances of each case. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney to determine your rights and obligations regarding this process, as well as ensure your assets are protected.
Preparing for Maintenance in Georgia
If you are going through a divorce and are seeking alimony or spousal support in Georgia, preparation is key! There are several steps you can take to prepare yourself:
- Gather financial documents: It is important to gather all relevant financial documents, including tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, investment statements, and retirement account statements. This will help you and your attorney accurately assess your financial needs and ability to pay.
- Consider your needs: Consider your expenses, including housing, utilities, food, healthcare, transportation, and other necessary expenses. This will help you determine your financial needs and the amount of support you may require.
- Consider your earning potential: Think about your ability to earn income after the divorce, including your education, skills, work experience, and any barriers to employment.
- Document contributions to the marriage: Make a list of all the contributions you made to the marriage, including household duties, childcare responsibilities, and other sacrifices you made for the benefit of the family.
- Consult with an attorney: It is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can evaluate your situation and help you understand your legal rights and options.
Taking the steps above will help you gain a better understanding of alimony and spousal support in Georgia, whether you will be the one paying support payments or receiving them.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
The duration of alimony in Georgia depends on various factors and can vary greatly from one case to another. Generally, these payments are not intended to be permanent; it’s usually set for a specific time period to help the receiving spouse become financially independent. The length of the marriage is a key factor; longer marriages often result in longer payment periods. For instance, a short marriage might lead to a brief period of payments, sometimes just for the duration of the divorce process. In contrast, for long marriages, the length of time support is paid could last several years. Remember, your agreement can be modified or terminated if there’s a significant change in circumstances, like remarriage or a substantial change in income. This flexible approach ensures that all payments made serve their purpose without becoming an indefinite financial burden.
Hiring an Attorney for Alimony and Spousal Support in Georgia
Alimony and support payments can have a lasting impact on your financial future, which is why it is crucial to have an experienced divorce and family law attorney in Georgia representing you. A knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney can help protect your rights and assets, as well as help you to reach a fair agreement. While having an attorney represent you isn’t required it is highly recommended, because self-representation is very risky in cases like these. At Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. we have over twenty-five years of experience representing individuals facing divorce and family law battles in Georgia. Contact one of our experienced Georgia divorce and family law attorneys today to see how we can help you get the best outcome of your case!