Spousal maintenance, often referred to as spousal support or alimony, is sometimes awarded to one spouse during a divorce. The funds are given to one spouse by the other spouse at the order of family court to provide financial support after a marriage has ended. Support may be temporary or permanent and is often awarded to help a spouse survive financially while he or she obtains an education, looks for a job, or if he or she is retirement age but could not obtain stable employment throughout his or her life because of a spouse’s career or other issue. Permanent spousal support is not as common as it once was, but it is still awarded during some divorces.  Understanding the potential long-term problems with spousal support is important if you believe you will have to pay spousal support or expect to receive it.


Permanent or long-term spousal support is often tied to the recipient’s marital status. If the spouse receiving alimony gets remarried, he or she runs the risk of losing the payments previously awarded. Fear of economic hardship may discourage a divorced person from getting remarried in the future in order to keep that alimony. The recipient may decide to cohabitate with another adult without getting married in order to keep receiving alimony, causing resentment from the spouse making payments. Alternatively, a person may decide to get remarried and lose support only to suffer if that second marriage ends in divorce as many second marriages do.

Changes in Income

A person who is ordered to pay spousal support pays an amount that is based upon his or her current income and financial obligations. If the income or obligations change in the future, both the payer and recipient could face serious financial repercussions. A person who is ordered to pay alimony over his or her lifetime may receive only a small reduction in payments after retirement. Another adult who is ordered to pay alimony temporarily who voluntarily reduces his or her salary drastically could lead to the recipient losing most or all of that financial support, leading to the loss of real property such as a home or transportation. Women in particular are at risk of living below the poverty line after a divorce, especially if they are unable to collect support payments that they were awarded.

Second Spouse’s Income

Remarriage was briefly discussed in connection with cohabitation, but there are additional long-term issues that a married couple can encounter if one or both was previously ordered to pay alimony. Once spousal support, particularly permanent support, is ordered, a person who gets remarried can place the new spouse’s income at risk, especially if he or she falls behind in support payments. An ex-spouse may attempt to obtain alimony from the former partner’s current spouse. Though alimony reform has benefited most couples in Georgia, a person who is behind in permanent or temporary alimony to a former spouse places a current spouse at significant financial risk.

Get Help

Finding yourself mired in a spousal support related dispute is often overwhelming. Even a seemingly basic situation can quickly become complex, especially if you are not familiar with current laws or procedures. The alimony and spousal support attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are able to work with you to find the best way to handle your situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our four Atlanta, Georgia offices so that we can begin giving you the legal advice you need to resolve your spousal support issues.