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Awarding spousal support in Georgia

Divorcing couples in Georgia often have several issues to address during the divorce process. If one spouse earns significantly more income than the other, it is likely that spousal support will be one of these issues.

The court will typically order the higher-earning spouse to pay a certain amount of money to the lesser-earning or stay-at-home spouse for a specified amount of time. Lump-sum alimony refers to a one-time payment, whereas periodic alimony refers to a series of payments over time.

How much spousal support will be awarded?

The amount of spousal support awarded will depend on several factors relating to earning potential and marital lifestyle. Georgia family law courts may consider:

  • Age and health of each spouse.
  • Income currently earned by each spouse.
  • Earning potential of each spouse (e.g., education, work skills, or work history/experience).
  • Length of the marriage.
  • Living standards established during the marriage.
  • Non-financial contributions made by each spouse to the marriage.
  • Other relevant factors, as determined by the court.

What types of alimony are available?

There are several types of alimony available in Georgia. The type of alimony awarded will depend on the factors listed above.

  • Pendente lite: Awarded temporarily during the divorce proceedings.
  • Rehabilitative: Awarded temporarily until receiving spouse can complete degree or job training to become financially self-reliant.
  • Reimbursement: Awarded to spouse who supported the family while the other spouse was establishing their career.
  • Permanent alimony: Mostly awarded to spouses who are unable to support themselves due to age or health.

The court may also decide to award indirect alimony which is intended to pay for specific expenses (e.g., mortgage).

How long will spousal support last?

The general rule of thumb is to award one year of alimony for every three years of marriage. However, courts are not required to adhere to this standard. The court will typically evaluate the circumstances and use its discretion when determining the duration of alimony payments. Alimony payments may end early if one of the spouses passes away or the spouse receiving alimony gets remarried or begins cohabiting with a new partner.