There is no mathematical formula for alimony in Georgia. Alimony is based on one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. The factors considered are (1) the standard of living during the marriage; (2) the duration of the marriage; (3) the age and physical and emotional condition of the parties; (4) the financial resources of each party; (5) the time necessary for a party to acquire education or training for employment; (6) the contribution of each party to the marriage; (7) the financial condition of the parties; and (8) other relevant factors.
Judges have broad discretion to decide whether to award alimony and if so in what amount and for what duration. Alimony is usually only awarded in longer term marriages, though what is considered long-term can vary based on the specific facts of the case. In cases where alimony is awarded, it frequently lasts about one-third the length of the marriage, though again, this timeframe can vary in each case. Typically, alimony may be terminated ahead of schedule by the remarriage or death of the recipient spouse. A lawyer can help advise you as to whether an alimony award is likely in your case and how much and what duration of alimony may be expected.
Bar to Alimony
A party is barred from receiving alimony if that party had an affair that caused the breakdown of the marriage or if that party deserted the marriage. To bar a party from receiving alimony based on an affair, the party seeking to avoid paying alimony must show both that there was an affair and that the affair is what ended the marriage. If there has been forgiveness of the affair, then the affair did not cause the breakdown of the marriage.
Lump Sum v. Periodic
Periodic alimony is paid in regular installments over a set period of time, such as monthly payments. The amount of periodic alimony can increase or decrease on a set timetable. Lump sum alimony is paid in one installment.
Tax Consequences of Alimony
Alimony is usually taxable to the recipient and tax deductible to the payor. Lump sum alimony may be treated as a division of property for tax purposes, although it is not treated as a division of property in a divorce. Additional requirements may apply for alimony payments to be considered alimony for tax purposes, and a tax professional can best advise you on the tax consequences of an alimony structure.
Modification of Alimony
Periodic alimony is modifiable in both duration and amount by either party after the divorce is finalized and may be terminated completely. To modify alimony, the party seeking to have the alimony award changed must bring a new Court action. Alimony may be modified based on the changed financial condition of either spouse or on the recipient spouse’s cohabitation in a meretricious relationship. Lump sum alimony is not modifiable.
Seeking Legal Help
The Ruthenberg-Marshall Law Firm can assist you in seeking alimony, seeking to avoid paying alimony, and modifying alimony, especially in cases where whether there is a bar to alimony may be a factual issue for the Court to decide.
For help with your alimony action, you can schedule a Legal Clarity Session with The Ruthenberg-Marshall Law Firm by calling 678-435-9069 or contacting us here.