In Georgia, there are 13 grounds for divorce. 12 are considered “fault” grounds, while one, “irretrievably broken”, is considered a “no fault” ground. No matter what grounds you have filed or have been filed against you, alimony is probably a part of your divorce negotiations if there is a disparity of income between you and your spouse.
Alimony, or spousal support, is the financial support that is paid by one spouse to the other in a divorce case. In most cases, the higher earning spouse is the one to make periodic payments to the lower earning spouse. This payment can occur both during and after the divorce, on a temporary or permanent basis.
The award of alimony to a spouse in a divorce is governed by O.C.G.A. 19-6-1 (c). The factors that a Court considers in deciding whether or not to award alimony, the length of time it should be paid, and how much should be paid include the following:
Other factors can be considered if a court deems them as proper and equitable.
In Georgia, adultery is also taken into consideration when it comes to alimony discussions. By Georgia law, adultery is defined as one spouse having sexual relations with another person who is not their spouse, while married. If adultery can be proven (through witness accounts, photos, phone records, videos, etc.), the spouse who has been unfaithful can potentially be barred from receiving any alimony.
Besides the factors above, the type of alimony is also important when a court is deciding how much financial aid should be awarded. Types of alimony include temporary alimony, indirect alimony or permanent alimony.
Temporary Alimony: Temporary alimony is also called “pendente lite”, which essentially means “pending”. This type of alimony is usually awarded while the divorce proceedings are underway and is for a specific period of time. It is not guaranteed that someone will receive permanent or further alimony just because they were originally awarded temporary alimony.
Indirect Alimony: This is when a spouse pays for direct expenses like a mortgage or a car loan payment. This is a less traditional form of alimony.
Permanent Alimony: Permanent alimony continues for an extended period of time. This could be until the death of the receiving party. Permanent alimony is generally awarded when several of the above factors are met and proven. The obligation of the paying spouse ends if the recipient remarries or dies.
In some cases, it is possible to have alimony modified or terminated. This can be done by filing a motion asking for either action. Altering the alimony typically happens when the receiving spouse starts earning more than the paying spouse or the receiving spouse’s condition has worsened. Alimony can also be lowered when the paying spouse has had a chance in financial circumstances lowering his income.
Alimony is typically tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient. Lump Sum Alimony can be treated as non-taxable to the recipient and non tax deductible by the payor. The language must be carefully drafted in your Order or Agreement to make sure the alimony has the appropriate tax implications that are intended by the parties.
Anytime finances come into play, things get tricky. We’re sorry that you are going through a difficult situation, but the attorneys at Bivek, Brubaker & Prescott are here to make your divorce proceedings go as smoothly as possible. We believe that a divorce represents a new beginning and we are here to answer any questions for you as you create your new journey. Call us today for your free consultation!