Alimony negotiations can be one of the most difficult parts of divorce proceedings. If you are going through a divorce in Georgia, it is important to be informed about the process before you get started. You will want to understand what the court will be looking at when determining what financial support is required, the kinds of alimony that can be awarded, and how to modify or terminate an alimony arrangement. These are the facts you need to know about alimony in Georgia.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is financial support paid by the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse.

When awarding alimony, the court will consider a variety of factors to get a complete image of each spouse’s financial situation. The receiving spouse will need to prove that they are truly in need of financial support and that their spouse can provide that support. The judge will look at the earning capacity of both spouses, any separate assets or current financial resources, and the age and physical wellness of both spouses. The length of the marriage, the standard of living, and any services provided during the marriage without direct monetary value like homemaking will also be taken into account.

A judge can order temporary alimony.

Temporary alimony (or “Pedente Lite” alimony) may be awarded for a set period of time. This is most commonly awarded to support the lower earning spouse during the course of the divorce proceedings. However, it is important to remember that receiving temporary alimony is not a guarantee that the judge will also grant permanent alimony when the final negotiations are complete.

Alimony can be direct or indirect.

The most common form of permanent alimony are fixed support payments made on a pre-determined schedule (often monthly or bi-weekly). In some cases, the paying spouse may be required to make lump sum payments. Less commonly seen is indirect alimony. In this arrangement, the paying spouse provides financial support by covering expenses like car payments or mortgage payments.

Both parties should be prepared for negotiation.

Whether you are planning to ask for spousal support in your divorce or if you believe your spouse will want alimony, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Because alimony negotiations are often complicated and emotionally fraught, it is important that you work with an experienced lawyer who will be able to speak to the court on your behalf. Both spouses will most likely be required to make financial disclosures if alimony is sought; review your spouse’s income and expenses, and do not forget to consider financial benefits beyond salary. The use of a company car, health insurance, stock options, overtime, and more should all be factored in when you are determining how much support you should ask for or how much support you can afford to give.

Adultery can prevent a spouse from receiving alimony.

In the state of Georgia, the act of adultery can play a big role in divorce proceedings. If one spouse is proved to have been unfaithful during the marriage, they may be barred from receiving alimony. However, this bar may not apply if the unfaithful spouse has been forgiven by their partner for their transgression.

Alimony automatically terminates when the recipient remarries.

If the receiving spouse remarries, the alimony arrangement is automatically ceased; the paying spouse does not need to take any additional measures to terminate the arrangement. Alimony may also be terminated or modified if the receiving spouse begins a live-in relationship with a new romantic partner (sometimes called a “meretricious relationship), but the paying spouse will have to file a motion to have the arrangement revisited.

Either spouse can file a motion to have the alimony arrangement modified or terminated.

Although remarriage is already covered in the law, there are many other life changes that may necessitate a change in alimony such as getting or losing a job. If there has been a major change since the alimony arrangement was determined, either spouse can file a motion with the superior court clerk’s office. A court date will be set to revisit the arrangement; if both parties can agree on modifying or terminating the arrangement, the hearing will not be necessary.

Alimony Law in Georgia

Alimony law is in place to make sure that both spouses are financially supported after a divorce. A lot of consideration and research goes into the court’s decision on how and when to award alimony. Do not be caught off-guard by this complicated issue; now that you know the facts, seek out an attorney with a strong track record in alimony law in Georgia. Having an experienced advocate to negotiate for you in court will help you reach the best outcome for your family.