At Bivek Brubaker & Prescott, we often receive questions about Georgia alimony laws from our clients as they enter into the divorce process. It’s wise to educate yourself about this important topic. To help you on your journey, we’ve compiled some of our most frequent alimony questions:
There is no standardized formula to determine alimony (like there is for child support). Alimony is discretionary and based on multiple factors:
The two biggest factors the courts consider are the length of the marriage and the financial resources of each spouse.
A common misconception is that alimony is supposed to make the spouses’ incomes equal after a divorce. This is simply not the case. Alimony is meant to help the spouse who earns less to get back on their feet after the divorce.
The trend among the Georgia Superior Courts is to award less alimony. Fair or not, the spouse who earns less is expected to adapt faster than in the past. However, if one spouse has a significant medical condition, this can affect the alimony award.
Courts ultimately balance the receiving spouse’s financial need against the paying spouse’s ability to pay. A good rule of thumb for the length of an alimony award is one-third of the marriage’s duration. Courts typically cap alimony after a certain number of years, and they rarely award lifetime alimony.
If you are paying alimony, you can deduct those payments on your income tax returns.
If you’re receiving alimony, you must pay taxes on those funds. They will be taxed as income.
However, an exception is made for lump-sum alimony awards (which cannot be modified). If you are receiving lump-sum alimony, that income is not taxable.
If you’re paying alimony, you can seek to alter the arrangement if your financial circumstances substantially change (you lose your job, for example). However, both spouses can agree that alimony cannot be changed.
If you are receiving alimony, it’s rare that you would qualify for an increase in alimony – even if your former spouse starts earning more income. However, if you experience a financial hardship or an unforeseen, debilitating medical issue, the Court may increase your award.
Regardless of whether you’re paying or receiving alimony, the number of years that alimony will be in effect can never be increased or decreased.
Unless the Settlement Agreement specifically states otherwise, alimony payments end when the spouse who is receiving alimony remarries or cohabitates with their romantic or sexual partner.
Simply having a boyfriend or girlfriend or going on a date would not be enough to end alimony payments. You must show that your former spouse and their partner are living together.
No. Once the Court finds (or the spouses agree) that neither spouse will receive alimony, neither spouse can seek alimony later.
Every judge is different in how much alimony they award, so it’s important to work with a Marietta divorce attorney who is familiar with the judges in the county where your divorce will be heard. At Bivek Brubaker & Prescott, our knowledge of alimony and judges’ tendencies throughout Cobb, Fulton, Paulding, Cherokee, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties is extensive. Call us today at 404-793-6530 to speak with one of our highly qualified Marietta family law attorneys.