Alimony, also referred to as maintenance payments, is a form of spousal support that is awarded to one spouse after the dissolution of a marriage. Over the past few years, the debate regarding alimony reform has taken place on a national level as state governments attempt to modernize existing laws without causing harm to those who would receive payments. While Georgia is known for having some of the most progressive alimony laws, there are still some who believe that Georgia alimony laws should be reviewed. Learning about the argument for alimony reform is important if you or someone close to you may need to pay or receive alimony in the future.
Reasons for Reform
There are several arguments used to support alimony reform with the primary concern being a spouse paying alimony for more years than he or she was married to the former spouse. The financial burden of spousal support makes it difficult for a person to recover financially after a divorce leading to a lower standard of living or outright poverty. Though alimony payments that are court ordered are deductible on federal taxes, the write off does not necessarily balance the strain that payments throughout the year have caused. Individuals advocating reform point to cases of spouses spending years in court trying to prove that they cannot afford the payment amount stipulated in the agreement. Others have even faced incarceration for their inability to pay after being taken to court for contempt after falling behind on payments.
Individuals who may potentially qualify for alimony and their advocates understand why some want reform, but they are concerned about possible repercussions. Often maintenance payments are requested to compensate the spouse who gave up his or her own career or education in order to manage a household or help a spouse establish a business. Georgia and other states support rehabilitative alimony that provides support to a spouse while he or she pursues higher education or searches for a job. Some reform opponents worry about the long term implications of preventing a judge from using his or her own discretion to determine if alimony is necessary.
The Repercussions of Retroactive Changes
Some supporters of alimony reform are advocating the passing of retroactive laws that change divorce settlements. In Massachusetts, parts of the state’s Alimony Reform Act allowed retroactive changes to older settlements. This ruling caused concern as some alimony recipients received motions to stop their payments years after their divorces. Individuals, especially those who are retired and dependent on their maintenance payments, may face serious hardship if their alimony is suddenly stopped.
Talk to an Attorney
Property division in a divorce is never easy, especially when each spouse has his or her own idea regarding what is and is not fair. Spousal support in particular can lead to arguments since few spouses are comfortable with the idea of paying to financial support a partner after a marriage has ended. The alimony and spousal support attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum know how sensitive maintenance negotiations are and our team is able to help you come to an agreement with your spouse. Contact us today and schedule a consultation at one of our four conveniently located Atlanta area offices.