Atlanta Alimony Attorneys
Helping You Pursue an Ideal Outcome in Your Case
Alimony is payment from one spouse to support the other in event of a divorce. Alimony disputes are frequently one of the more hotly contested aspects of any divorce, especially when one party requests a significant amount of spousal support.
Whether you're a prospective payor or recipient in an alimony case, our Atlanta alimony lawyers will work with you to pursue an equitable outcome that supports your needs and best interests.
How Does Alimony Work in GA?
Alimony recipients can obtain one of two types of alimony:
- Temporary alimony. Temporary alimony helps support a spouse while the divorce process is under way, ensuring they maintain a good standard of living throughout the divorce.
- Permanent alimony. Permanent alimony lasts after a divorce is complete, but not necessarily for an indefinite amount of time. In essence, a court could order a permanent alimony arrangement that will support a spouse until they receive a certain amount of professional training and can feasibly support themselves, after which the alimony arrangement is terminated.
How much alimony the payor is responsible for largely depends on the circumstances of the divorce.
For example, if the court determines the payor has a large amount of disposable income and the recipient needs a significant amount of support, the alimony payment may be fairly significant. Alternatively, if the court decides the payor has little income to spare, a smaller alimony arrangement may be more appropriate.
Here are five things you need to know about alimony:
1. The amount of alimony is based on two things: need and ability to pay.
The spouse requesting alimony must demonstrate both a need for financial support and the other spouse’s ability to pay. If you are requesting alimony, you will need to demonstrate your sources of income and the amount needed to maintain an appropriate lifestyle for yourself after the divorce.
For the ability to pay, you will need to have proof of your spouses’ income, including any bonuses, and other regular payments. The court will also consider your spouse’s lifestyle and whether alimony payments will cause hardship for him or her.
2. Alimony, spousal support, and maintenance are the same and payments are taxable.
While you may hear all three of these terms used, they all mean the same thing – payments from one spouse to another.
If you receive child support, you do not pay taxes on that money. However, alimony is considered taxable income.
3. Alimony is generally paid for a definite period of time.
Alimony is awarded for a specific period of time. For example, two years, five years or 10 years, whatever period is specified. Sometimes temporary alimony is awarded while the divorce is pending due to the time it can take for a divorce to become final and permanent alimony awarded. It rarely continues until remarriage, but ends upon death or remarriage unless there is an agreement that states otherwise.
Sometimes a spouse is awarded “rehabilitative alimony,” giving him or her time to do what is necessary to get back into the job market.
4. The court tends to want to help people who want to help themselves.
I give the example in my book, Harmon Caldwell’s Georgia Divorce Handbook, of the stay-at-home wife of a successful businessman. They had been married for 25 years and the children are grown. The court may not look too kindly on her request if the wife goes to court asking for continued support while she continues to stay at home.
If, however, she has made an effort to find some type of employment, the court is much more likely to award her more alimony. The amount of income she receives is not as important as the fact that she made an effort and showed her willingness to work.
5. Awards of alimony can vary widely by state.
While laws vary from state to state, the overall trend is to award less alimony and for a shorter period of time. Alimony reform is a hot topic in several states. For example in Florida, a statute was introduced this year (although not acted upon) that would have eliminated permanent periodic alimony for long-term marriages, eliminated the current guideline brackets based on the years of marriage, and pretty much abolished it for marriages of less than two years duration.
How Do Courts Decide if a Spouse Needs Alimony?
Courts consider several factors when deciding whether to award an individual with temporary or permanent alimony, including:
- The length of the marriage. Longer marriages are often affiliated with more substantial or longer alimony arrangements.
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The age and health of each spouse. For example, a spouse who cannot work due to a medical condition may require more alimony than a spouse already in the workforce.
- Each spouse's current earnings and earning capabilities.
- How long it would take the prospective recipient to become financially stable, including how long it may take them to obtain professional training and re-enter the workforce (if they don't currently work).
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage, both in terms of activities (such as caring for the children) and finances (such as paying the mortgage).
- How each spouse contributed to the other's career, professional licenses, and education.
- How a proposed alimony arrangement may impact the alimony payor.
- Any other elements the court considers pertinent to the case.
As you can see, a wide range of factors could impact the outcome of your alimony case - which is why it's so important to have legal representation you trust by your side.
Our alimony lawyers can help you identify and work towards a positive outcome in your case.