When couples enter into a Georgia divorce, the court may order one spouse to make financial payments to the other for a period of time. These payments are referred to as alimony, or spousal support, if such alimony payments are deemed necessary. Alimony doesn’t come automatically with every divorce, but there are certain situations where it is needed and appropriate.
The experienced divorce attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC in Atlanta can help you determine if you may be entitled to receive alimony from, or may be obligated to pay alimony to, your former spouse. We work hard to represent our clients’ best interests, to help ensure you have the finances you need to move on with your life after a divorce.
Different Types of Atlanta Alimony Payments
Georgia law recognizes several different types of alimony.
- Temporary Alimony – If a divorce is still pending in the courts, the judge may order temporary alimony. This type of alimony is limited to a specific period of time, and the receipt of temporary alimony does not mean that permanent alimony will later be awarded.
- Permanent Alimony – The term “permanent” alimony or spousal support is a misnomer; alimony is generally provided for only a set period of time under Georgia law. In contrast with temporary alimony which may end when the divorce is final, permanent alimony is support provided after the marriage ends.
- Indirect Alimony – Indirect alimony arrangements aren’t what most people think of when they hear “alimony.” Instead of one spouse making alimony payments directly to their former spouse as it usually happens in more traditional alimony arrangements, an indirect alimony arrangement means that one spouse might make car payments, mortgage payments, or pay other regular obligations for their former spouse.
- Alimony Arrangements – Georgia law may also provide for alimony arrangements where one spouse may be required to make multiple alimony payments to the other, as one-time lump sum payments, regularly-scheduled periodic payments, or both.
What Factors Are Considered When Courts Make Alimony Determinations?
It’s not enough for the lower-earning spouse to show that they need alimony payments to continue their standard of living in Georgia; there must also be documentation showing that the higher-earning spouse has the ability to pay.
Georgia courts will consider the following factors in cases where alimony is sought:
- How old each spouse is, and their general physical wellness.
- How long the spouses were married to each other.
- Each spouse’s standard of living.
- The earning capacity of each spouse.
- The financial assets and resources available to each spouse.
- If one or both of the spouses is currently unemployed, how long it might take them to get back on solid financial footing.
- Each spouse’s non-financial contribution to the marriage. This can include, but is not limited to, homemaking services, child care, career-building and education. While these types of contributions are not income-producing activities, courts will consider the impact they had on allowing the other spouse to earn an income and provide for their spouse during the marriage.
- Each spouse’s earning capacity.
- Each spouse’s fixed liabilities.
- The reasons behind the divorce may also come into play with alimony determinations. For example, a spouse who committed adultery or who abandoned their spouse cannot later request spousal support when a divorce occurs.
Because the court’s decision will be based on the information they have available to them at the time of your case, it is critical to present an accurate, complete picture. When you choose to work with the skilled, knowledgeable family law and alimony attorneys at Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC, you will have an advocate in your corner, helping to present all of the information in the most favorable light for you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Atlanta Alimony Law
Q: If I am receiving alimony and decide to get remarried to someone new, will I still receive alimony payments?
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A: Most likely you will not receive alimony payments if you remarry. Generally speaking, alimony ends when the spouse who is receiving it remarries or dies.
Q: Who can get alimony payments in Georgia?
A: In previous generations, the primary recipients of alimony payments in Georgia, and nationwide, were women. However, as discussed above, the determination of whether alimony is warranted considers a wide range of factors. With an increase in women in the workforce and men who choose to stay home and raise children, those traditional norms are disappearing. The spouse who is awarded alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis. There are also many situations where neither ex-spouse is entitled to receive alimony payments, based on their comparative financial situations.
Q: Are alimony payments tax-free income to the spouse who receives them?
A: No. Alimony is generally considered to be taxable income to the recipient. The ex-spouse who is making alimony payments may be able to take a tax deduction for the amount paid. Of course, tax laws are complex, so it is always important to talk to your tax professional and your attorney to determine the potential tax consequences for your particular situation.
Changing Atlanta Alimony
Q: Can alimony be changed?
A: Yes, alimony can be changed through a support modification request. Since financial situations change over time, Georgia law allows for modifications to alimony awards. If you or your former spouse received a windfall or experienced some other financial change that impacts the need to receive, or the ability to pay, alimony, your Kitchens New Cleghorn attorney can help determine if a modification request is appropriate.
Q: How long does permanent alimony last?
A: Every alimony case is different. Alimony awards are based on each spouse’s financial situation at the time of the original award. Sometimes, alimony is designed to be paid just long enough for the recipient spouse to get back on their feet financially and become self-sufficient after a divorce. In other cases, the amount of alimony awarded may be based on the number of years you were married.
Q: What happens if the paying spouse refuses to make alimony payments?
A: Refusing to make court-ordered alimony payments is a crime. If the payor is habitually late making payments, or intentionally refuses to pay, he or she may be facing garnishment of their wages or even jail time.
For Help with Atlanta Alimony Matters, Contact Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC Today
Atlanta alimony payments are not automatic in every separation or divorce, but they can be appropriate in certain circumstances.
If you need help with requesting alimony, challenging an alimony request from your former spouse, or modifying an existing alimony order, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side, looking out for your best interests.
To schedule a no-obligation initial consultation with an attorney at Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC, contact us online or call us in Atlanta at 404.996.0806 today.