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Georgia alimony law is still comparatively traditional

Georgia is unusual in that it requires the judge to look at the reason that the parties separated as part of the alimony equation.

Alimony is the payment of support from one ex-spouse to the other. In a Georgia divorce, alimony can be temporary, meaning lasting only the duration of the divorce proceeding or for an additional period of time, or permanent, meaning part of the final divorce order, that may continue indefinitely.

The divorcing parties have the option of negotiating an agreement as part of the divorce settlement in which they decide the terms of any alimony award to which they agree. Otherwise, the superior court judge in the divorce will decide all alimony issues.

Alimony standard

The judge must first decide if alimony is appropriate. Georgia statute provides that the judge may award it if one party needs it and the other has the ability to pay.

Georgia law is quite traditional - as compared to the laws of some other states - because it requires that the judge consider how the parties have conducted themselves toward one another. As part of this consideration, the judge must look at evidence of why the parties separated. If the separation was because of "adultery or desertion," the offending party is disqualified from receiving alimony from the other.

Alimony amount

Georgia statute sets out eight factors the judge is required to consider in setting the amount of alimony:

  • Marital standard of living
  • Length of marriage
  • Each spouse's age and physical and emotional health
  • Each of their financial resources
  • Time required for either to get enough education or training to be able to locate "appropriate employment"
  • Each of their contributions to the marriage, including "services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party."
  • Each spouse's "condition ... including the separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed liabilities ..."
  • Any other relevant factor that the judge feels is "equitable and proper"

Form of alimony payment

The method of payment of alimony is also flexible. It can be ordered in cash on a periodic basis, usually monthly, or payable in one lump sum. It can also include the use of property, be paid from the income from an investment or be ordered paid in some other, similar way.

Alimony duration

Permanent alimony can be of ongoing duration with no set end date, may have a specific end date or could be set to end on the occurrence of a particular event.

State statute, however, provides that alimony shall end if the recipient remarries, unless the court provides otherwise.

Unless the court order states something else, if the paying ex-spouse passes away, the alimony obligation ceases. However, if alimony is owing at the time of death, the recipient may make a claim against the payor's estate.

The attorneys of Harrison & Medlin, P.C., with offices in Evans and Lincolnton, Georgia, represent spouses in divorce and all of its legal issues, including alimony, throughout the Central Savannah River Area.

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