There are many misunderstandings about alimony—most regarding who gets it and under what circumstances. But one of the most common misconceptions is the idea that alimony is permanent.
According to O.C.G.A. 19-6-1, alimony is “an allowance out of one party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately. It is either temporary or permanent.”
In fact, while the courts will sometimes order permanent alimony, they’re more likely these days to order temporary alimony, due in part to the changing working dynamics of many modern couples. In either case, the judge determining alimony will consider, among other factors:
So what’s the difference between the two main types of alimony, especially if “permanent” doesn’t really always mean “permanent”?
After divorce proceedings begin, the court may sometimes award temporary alimony to the lower-earning spouse. Though it’s also called “pendente lite,” which suggests “pending,” it’s not a guarantee of future alimony payments.
Temporary alimony may also be awarded after a divorce is finalized. If it’s clear that one spouse needs support for a limited period of time while searching for a job or completing professional training, temporary alimony can provide a reliable income during the interim. This is sometimes the case when one spouse has left the workforce to care for children and needs to update job skills before returning to work. Payments will end once the recipient is able to support him or herself independently.
Permanent alimony is most common among older couples or those who have been married for many years. The court will award permanent alimony in cases where the recipient is unlikely to enter the workforce or earn a supporting wage. Sometimes, one spouse has been out of the workforce for years, maybe even decades, raising children and supporting the working partner’s career. Even permanent alimony can end, however.
While temporary and permanent alimony are the most common types, there is also indirect alimony, where one spouse pays for specific expenses, like a mortgage.
Lump-sum alimony is also an alternative to the traditional forms of alimony. For some couples, it removes the reliance and potential risk involved with alimony.
While the judge will ultimately order alimony, it’s important to understand the potential options. At Bivek Brubaker & Prescott, we understand the nuances of alimony arrangements, and we’re familiar with the judges of the Superior Courts of Cobb, Fulton, Paulding, Cherokee, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties. Contact us today!