Area of Law:
In the event of a divorce, if either spouse does not have a separate estate, or if a spouse's assets are not sufficient to offer a means of support, a judge might order alimony, which is also known as spousal support. Alimony is usually a monthly financial allowance paid by one spouse to another. The purpose of alimony is to offset any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to the non-wage earning or lower-wage earning spouse.
To be eligible for alimony, spouses in all states, including Georgia, must have been legally married. Alimony is usually based on a settlement agreement made between the spouses or the discretion of a judge. In Georgia, any spouse may be awarded alimony as long as they are not guilty of adultery or desertion. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially through alimony payments is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or, if the parties cannot agree, the court's discretion. In determining whether or not to grant alimony, Georgia courts consider evidence about the conduct of the spouses towards one another.
There are four types of alimony: lump-sum, rehabilitative, temporary, and permanent. Lump sum alimony is calculated by the court and is usually made in one payment. Temporary alimony may be paid for a specific amount of time, usually one or two years, to help one partner become financially independent and “get back on their feet.” Rehabilitative is the most commonly awarded type of alimony and may include payments for the education necessary for the recipient spouse to become self-sufficient. Permanent alimony is paid regularly for an indefinite period of time or until the payee petitions the court to modify or discontinue the payments.
In Georgia, a court may order temporary alimony while the divorce is pending. Most alimony awards in the state are made for a specific length of time, as opposed to being indefinite. According to lawyers.com, the type and amount of alimony awarded by Georgia courts depends on a variety of factors, including the following:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial resources of each party
- The time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education and training to enable him or her to find appropriate employment
- The contribution of each party to the marriage
- The earning capacity of the parties
In the United States, alimony is treated differently tax wise from child support payments. In Georgia, alimony is deductible for the person who pays it and taxable income for the person who receives it under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, while child support is not.
In the past, most alimony awards in Georgia were made to homemakers who needed the support of their former husbands. However, since current marriages often consist of two wage earners, and more men are assuming child-rearing duties, alimony awards have changed. It is now not unusual for an ex-wife to be compelled to make alimony payments to her ex-husband. To review the general provisions for alimony awards in Georgia, go to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1.