Alimony (also referred to as Spousal Support) can be awarded as part of a Georgia Divorce. Georgia law defines alimony as “an allowance out of one party’s estate made for the support of the other party when living separately”. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(a).

Under Georgia law, the court can award Permanent Alimony, Temporary Alimony or Rehabilitative Alimony. The difference between temporary and permanent alimony depends on whether the divorce is final. Rehabilitative alimony can be awarded for any period of time that is not based on the life of the person receiving the alimony.

Permanent Alimony: This is alimony that is awarded for the life of either the wife or husband – or for an extended period of time. It terminates at the death of either spouse. Permanent alimony is only awarded in the case of long marriages. Remarriage or cohabitation of the spouse receiving the alimony can be grounds to terminate the alimony. It is important to note that permanent alimony does not necessarily mean that the one of the parties is required to pay alimony to his or her spouse for the remainder of his or her life.

Temporary Alimony: Temporary alimony is awarded “when an action for divorce or permanent alimony is pending”. For one of the parties to receive temporary alimony, the parties must have a hearing in front of a Judge. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-3(a). Temporary alimony is intended to provide support of one of the parties until a final judgment is reached by the court or until further order by the court.

Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony when awarded grants payments made by one spouse to another for a limited period of time. Rehabilitative alimony is designed to allow the person receiving money to prepare to become financially self-sufficient. During this time, the person receiving alimony is expected to look for full time employment and/or receive and education that would lead to full time employment.

When the court grants alimony, there are several factors that are used to determine whether to award alimony, the amount to award and the duration of the alimony payments. These factors include, but are not limited to:

Adultery: If one of the parties has committed adultery or has abandoned their spouse during his or her marriage, then the judge most likely will not grant alimony in a case. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(b).

Needs: The court will take into account the financial needs of the parties.

Ability to Pay: The court will consider the ability of one of the parties to pay alimony to the other party according. See O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(c).

Income: If the parties make approximately the same amount of money per year, the court will not usually award alimony to either of the parties in a divorce.

Duration of Marriage: The length of time the parties were married is very relevant in any request for alimony.

Standard of Living: The standard of living for the parties during the marriage and at the time leading up to the divorce is very relevant in request for alimony.

Physical Condition: The age, physical health, and emotional health of both parties.

Education: The education level of the parties and/or how much time is needed for a person seeking alimony to receive the training or education necessary to re-enter the workforce.

Contribution to Marriage: How much each partner contributed to the marriage in terms of childcare, housekeeping and other related family and home life duties.

Once a judge has heard all of the evidence, it is under his or her discretion whether to award alimony in a case. It important to understand that just because the parties are getting divorced does not automatically mean that the court will award alimony to one of the parties in the case.

Alimony, like all other divorce issues, can be resolved as a part of an uncontested case. If the parties are in agreement regarding alimony, the parties would both sign as part of a divorce agreement the terms setting out the terms of the divorce and alimony. The agreement is then submitted to the court. Assuming that both parties signed the agreement without pressure and the terms proposed are not unjust, the court will likely approve this petition for divorce and the provisions concerning alimony.