When facing divorce, many of our clients have questions regarding alimony. In summary, in Georgia, alimony can be paid in installments or by a lump sum payment. The court uses the following criteria in determining eligibility:
- Income and property of each party: alimony is most likely to be deemed necessary when there is a substantial difference in the amount of income/property between one spouse and the other.
- Earning capacity of each party: the present and future earning capacity of each of the spouses is another factor the courts take into consideration when deciding whether to grant alimony and whether it will be of a rehabilitative nature or otherwise. The court may provide alimony to the lesser earning spouse in order to enable them to pursue education or training that would increase their earning capacity.
- Impairments in earning capacity: the court can grant permanent alimony to a spouse who has little or no earning capacity. Circumstances that may warrant this decision include age or chronic illness. Additionally, if the receiving party has taken the primary role of caregiver/house maker, enabling the other party to build a career, the court may order permanent alimony to make up for the difference in earning potentials.
- Children at home: if there are young children in the home and one of the spouses has been the primary caregiver, the court may then require alimony be paid so that the party can continue that role. After the children are in school, the court may order alimony be paid so the spouse can work part-time. However, if both spouses were working prior to the divorce, this may not be the case, as the court will expect the situation to remain similar to the pre-divorce conditions.
- Ability of the payor to pay: if the income of both spouses is similar or the better off spouse only has a moderate income, this could mean little or no alimony is granted. The court takes into account both the needs of the parties but also the abilities to pay.
- Standard of living during the marriage: the standard of living prior to divorce is a factor to be considered when granting alimony. However, if that standard was acquired by incurring debts, the court will not expect the paying party to incur debt to keep the standard. It is, however, in the advantage of the party seeking alimony to present evidence reflecting a prosperous lifestyle.
- Duration of marriage: usually, the longer the marriage, the greater the likelihood of alimony. When young children are involved, the length of the marriage may be secondary to the decision to grant alimony, as the welfare of the children will be the primary concern of the court.
- Premarital agreements/fault: the court will take into consideration premarital or post marital agreements made by the parties and the fault assigned to the divorce in deciding whether to grant alimony.
If you are facing divorce in Georgia and have questions regarding alimony, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss how we can assist you.