Which Party Has To Pay Alimony Or Spousal Support In A Divorce?
If alimony, also called spousal support, is awarded, it is almost always the spouse who makes more money who has to pay the other spouse who makes less or who does not work, which makes sense.
How Is Alimony Calculated?
Unfortunately, the statute, or law, in Georgia is very short and very vague on the issue of alimony. It (OCGA § 19-6-1) provides, in part, as follows:
- OCGA § 19-6-1(a) Alimony is an allowance out of one party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately. It is either temporary or permanent.
- OCGA §19-6-1(b) A party shall not be entitled to alimony if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the separation between the parties was caused by that party’s adultery or desertion. In all cases in which alimony is sought, the court shall receive evidence of the factual cause of separation even though one or both of the parties may also seek a divorce, regardless of the grounds upon which a divorce is sought or granted by the court.
- OCGA §19-6-1(c) In all other cases in which alimony is sought, alimony is authorized, but is not required, to be awarded to either party in accordance with the needs of the party and the ability of the other party to pay. In determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court shall consider evidence of the conduct of each party toward the other.
Some important points to take form this statute or law:
- Alimony is not automatic.
- Alimony can be temporary (for a fixed period) or permanent (until someone dies or remarries),
- The court is supposed to look at the needs of the parties, the ability of the parties to pay, and the conduct of the parties during the marriage.
- But in the end, there is no formula. I always say it is a “crapshoot,” though there are some rules of thumb, at least with regards to how judges usually rule:
- In short term marriages, say 1-5 years, you normally do not see alimony awarded.
- For midterm marriages, you can see alimony, but usually it is for a fixed period, not permanent. Sometimes the judges will award along the principle of “rehabilitative alimony,” which is to say, money to help a person get back on their feet again; for example, to go back to school or training to do what they need to get back into the workforce.
- You normally do not see permanent alimony unless you are dealing with an old fashioned long term marriage, 15 years or more, where one spouse was a stay-at-home parent and the like.
- Adultery is indeed a bar or block to getting alimony, if you can convince the judge or jury of it
- The conduct of the parties during the marriage is indeed relevant and supposed to be considered. So, in theory, alimony can be used to punish a wrongdoer.
- Alimony can be in the form of monthly payments which is what most people think of, but it can also be “in kind,” which means, for example, through the transfer of property, like a house, an account, an automobile, etc. The court can award someone property and call it alimony rather than call it the normal division of marital property.
For more information on Alimony/Spousal Support In a Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (912) 662-5555 today.
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