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When a marriage is dissolved, financial support in the form of alimony may be paid by one spouse to the other, either during the divorce process as temporary alimony, or after the marriage has legally ended as rehabilitative alimony, long term alimony, or lifetime alimony.
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Chambers Family Law has extensive experience in helping determine when and how much alimony is appropriate.
We understand this is often one of the most emotionally charged decisions arising from divorce.
In Georgia, alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis. There is no legally established calculation method or formula to determine alimony like there is for child support.
Instead, the court will consider multiple factors when determining alimony including conduct allegations by either spouse, for example adultery by the spouse requesting alimony.
However, primarily the court will consider the needs of the spouse requesting alimony and the ability of the spouse to pay the requested alimony.
We can help represent your best interests whether you are or hoping to avoid paying spousal support, or you are the spouse seeking alimony.
Types of Alimony
Alimony granted to either party will fall into one of the following categories:
Temporary alimony is awarded while the case is pending (usually under a Temporary Order) to provide the receiving party with a sufficient amount of support until the case is concluded.
Permanent alimony is granted at the conclusion of a case to be paid following the entry of the Final Decree of divorce. This alimony award can be paid as “rehabilitative alimony” or “short term alimony” for a period of time to allow the receiving spouse to rehabilitate their earning potential, or to allow for job training, further education or reestablishment of a career and can either terminate or taper down over time.
Permanent Alimony can also be paid as “long-term alimony” for an extended period or until the death of either spouse, the remarriage (or a new live-in committed relationship) of the spouse receiving alimony, which is referred to as “lifetime alimony.”
Permanent alimony can be paid either in periodic installments or in a lump sum award.
When determining spousal support, we also help our clients evaluate the pros and cons of receiving periodic alimony/support payments versus lump sum alimony awards.
Qualifying For Alimony
Georgia is an equitable division property state. Property is generally divided equitably between spouses, which means fair and reasonable under the circumstances. It can mean that separate property stays with the spouse who owns the property (think of vehicles or assets owned and acquired before the marriage, gifts or inherited assets).
Equitable division of property does not automatically mean an equal division of “marital” assets between spouses, although most often, assets are divided in the range of 50/50.
Factors that influence the court when determining the amount of alimony that is fair and reasonable include:
- Income disparity/earning capacity of the parties and whether one of the parties has been out of the workforce for a significant period of time
- Length of the marriage
- Age of the parties
- Standard of living of the parties
- Health of the parties
- Cause of separation
- Marital misconduct
- Contributions of each party as a spouse and/or as a parent
- Financial contributions to the marriage
- Each party’s separate estate
Note that “separate property” (premarital assets, inheritances and gifts from third parties) generally is not subject to an equitable division, depending on certain legal criteria and the historical handling of that “separate property” during the marriage.
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Addiction and Alimony
We know from personal and professional experience how untreated addiction can affect not only your legal grounds for divorce, but how it might influence the court when determining alimony. Chambers Family Law can advise you on ways to protect your financial assets.
Addiction is most likely to affect alimony if or when an addicted spouse (who is untreated and still in active addiction) has harmed the couple’s finances. A judge could decide to award additional alimony to the spouse of an addict/alcoholic if the addict drained the couple’s finances.
In other cases, one spouse may be required to pay alimony to an addicted spouse who is willing to go into recovery, to cover the costs of treatment.
Among other things, we recommend gathering evidence to prove how your spouse’s addiction has financially affected your marriage including:
A timeline of your spouse’s substance use
Paper and electronic transactions showing drug transactions (receipts, credit card statements, etc.)
Photos of drugs and drug paraphernalia
Documented communications between you and your spouse related to their substance use (emails, text messages, etc.)
Criminal records related to addiction
Witness statements from people who can attest to the severity of your spouse’s drug or alcohol use
Pete Chambers and the Chambers Law Firm has represented both those suffering from the mental health challenges of the disease of addiction, and the spouses (who are generally co-dependent) of those who have lived with the insanity of addiction and/or alcoholism caused by an addicted spouse.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Alimony
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a financial arrangement ordered by the court, where one spouse pays the other after divorce or separation. It's designed to provide financial assistance to the lower-earning spouse as they transition to single life, ensuring that both parties can maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce.
The amount of alimony is typically determined by several factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse's earning capacity, age, physical health, and the need of the recipient spouse. Laws vary by state, so it is essential to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction.
Yes, alimony can typically be modified (upwards or downwards) after the divorce if there is a significant change in either party's income or financial circumstances. This might include job loss, a significant increase or decrease in income, illness, or the recipient spouse's remarriage. The party seeking modification will need to petition the court and demonstrate why a change is necessary.
No, alimony is not always awarded in a divorce. The court will consider various factors, including the ones mentioned earlier, to determine whether alimony is appropriate. In some cases, the spouses might agree on the terms of alimony without court intervention.
A lawyer can provide crucial assistance in an alimony case. They can help you understand your rights, negotiate with your spouse's attorney, gather necessary financial information, and represent your interests in court. Given the potential financial implications, it is generally advisable to consult with an attorney if alimony is a factor in your divorce.