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Even permanent alimony can be modified if warranted

Alimony in Georgia is sometimes labeled as “permanent” alimony. But is permanent alimony really set in stone forever?

Permanent alimony

True permanent alimony is not commonly awarded. It might be awarded when a spouse can show they have an economic need for ongoing support based on the examination of various statutory factors such as their age and health and their financial resources. Old age or serious illness might be two reasons why a court might award permanent alimony.

The term “permanent” makes it sound as if this alimony award must last until the death of one of the spouses and can never be changed. However, neither of these things are necessarily true.

Modifying permanent alimony

Permanent alimony awards issued on or after July 1, 1977, can be modified by either spouse. The spouse wishing to modify the award can file a petition with the court demonstrating that either they or the other spouse have experienced a change in income and financial status. A hearing will be held, and if the court deems it appropriate, the award of permanent alimony will be modified.

In addition, if the receiving spouse is voluntarily residing with a third party in a “meretricious relationship,” this can be grounds for modifying an award of permanent alimony. To be in a meretricious relationship means the receiving spouse and the third party have an openly intimate relationship, rather than simply being roommates.

The death of either spouse or the remarriage of the receiving spouse will end an award of permanent alimony. But even if an alimony award is “permanent,” it can still be changed by the court if circumstances warrant.