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Many misconceptions exist about alimony, also known as spousal support. For example, people are often surprised to hear that the decision to grant alimony is entirely in the discretion of the judge, as is the amount. Support payments can occur both during the divorce and after, and either party can receive it.

Determining if alimony is appropriate, and the right amount, is vital to the financial future of both parties to a divorce. Too often, people fail to protect their right to alimony, or agree to an excessive amount because they are unaware of their rights. Some people simply forego their right to alimony in order to move on past the divorce or because of the emotional strain they are going through.

Protect Your Legal And Financial Rights In Divorce

That is why having an experienced divorce lawyer who is familiar with Georgia law is so vital to your financial interests. The Law Office of Catherine Verdery Ryan helps clients protect their financial future both by seeking alimony and arguing against its necessity. Because spousal support is discretionary and determined based on a number of factors, it is important that you have the services of an experienced family law attorney on your side who can persuasively present the facts of your situation when the court decides if alimony is appropriate.

How The Court Determines Alimony

Many harmful myths about alimony endure. Alimony is not a tool to punish one spouse for alleged bad behavior. In order for alimony to be awarded, there must be a discrepancy in the incomes of the parties. The court must also find that there is a need for the party requesting the alimony and the ability of the other party to pay. Unlike child support, there is no specific calculator or formula to determine the type or amount of alimony. Instead, the court reviews the circumstances of the case to determine the award of alimony to the requesting party. The factors the court considers include:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Contributions of the nonworking spouse
  • Potential earning capacity of both spouses
  • Age, physical and emotional state of each spouse
  • Effect on the custodial parent’s earning ability due to being the primary custodian
  • General financial condition, including all assets and debt
  • When applicable, the necessity to acquire sufficient education or training to enable a spouse to gain employment

It also may be possible to modify or terminate an existing alimony obligation if you can prove to the court there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order.

What Is The Difference Between Short-Term And Permanent Alimony?

Short-term alimony is awarded as a way to help a spouse get back on their feet. It is often given to stay-at-home parents who need training or schooling to get back in the work force. When the term reaches the end, it can be re-evaluated by the court.

Georgia courts have a high threshold for awarding permanent alimony. Usually it is only awarded when one of the spouses has a physical or mental illness that does not allow them to work. If one of the spouses is elderly, age may be a factor too.

Do I Have A Legal Recourse If My Spouse Doesn’t Make Alimony Payments?

Alimony is a court-ordered payment. That means that failure to make scheduled alimony payments is considered contempt of court. If your ex-spouse is habitually late in their payments or refuses to make payments, they may be arrested and face possible jail time. If this happens, the court will often garnish their wages.

Get A Thorough Case Evaluation

Ms. Ryan can review with you the various factors involved and help determine whether alimony is applicable to your case and likely to be awarded. To schedule your initial consultation, call her Augusta law firm at 706-251-7612 or reach us online here.

We only practice in the state of Georgia.