While divorcing your spouse in Georgia will legally end your marriage, it does not automatically end your obligations to one another. In most cases, the court may award alimony or spousal support to one spouse to help them build a new life after the divorce.
Who Qualifies for Spousal Support in Georgia?
Either spouse can ask the court for an alimony award during a divorce. But before it can award spousal support, the court will need to establish why one spouse requires it and if the other is capable of paying it. Provided that there’s a real need for alimony and the ability to pay it, the judge will take into account these factors when determining the alimony award:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- The age and emotional and physical health of each spouse
- The financial resources of each spouse
- What each spouse contributed to the marriage, such as childcare, housekeeping, education, and the other spouse’s career
- The time needed for the financially dependent spouse to complete adequate training or education to secure gainful employment
- Each spouse’s financial conditions, such as separate property, separate debts, and earning capacity
- Other factors the court considers relevant to determining the alimony award.
Take note that courts in Georgia will also consider whether the marital misconduct of one spouse caused or contributed to the marriage’s breakdown. The court may significantly reduce or deny spousal support for an eligible spouse that committed adultery or left the other spouse during the marriage.
If there’s no desertion or adultery, the judge will use the factors above to determine if alimony is needed, the type of alimony, the amount, and the duration of support.
How is Spousal Support Paid in Georgia?
The majority of alimony awards are paid out periodically, either weekly or monthly, and must continue until the judge orders it to stop. In cases where the paying spouse has enough financial resources, the judge can order a lump sum alimony award to the recipient spouse. While rare, since most people (particularly after a divorce) do not have the financial resources, lump sum alimony awards can help relieve ongoing yearly or monthly payments.
In cases where the judge ordered periodic alimony payments, an accompanying income deduction order may also be issued. This order allows the employer of the paying spouse to deduct spousal support payments from the paying spouse’s wages and send them to the support registry.
If you have been ordered to pay spousal support, you must pay the exact amount and follow the payment schedule. Failing to do so can result in a contempt charge, hefty fines, property liens, other penalties, and even jail time.
Seek Legal Counsel from an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Georgia
If you have any questions about spousal support in GA, do not hesitate to reach out to the Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP law firm. You can arrange your free case review with our Georgia family law attorney by calling 770-887-1209 or sending us a message online.