Ending a marriage can be a financial shock to spouses, especially if the spouse has less income or gave up a career to assist their soon-to-be ex or raise children. Spouses in Georgia may seek spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, during their divorce to help them meet their financial struggles.

Spousal support defined

Spousal support is money paid by a spouse to the other spouse to provide support. It can last for a short or long duration and is typically awarded when longer marriages end. Either spouse may seek this support.

Courts will award spousal support only when it finds that one spouse needs it. The other spouse must afford payments.

Rights

There is permanent support and short-term support. Permanent alimony is meant to continue for a long time when one of the spouses cannot work because of their age or a physical or mental illness. Spouses must overcome a higher burden to show they need this support in Georgia.

Short-term support is intended as short-term remedy to help one spouse receive more education or training so they can get a job. This is usually approved for a spouse who stayed at home during their marriage and needs to improve their employment skills.

How to ask for it

A request for spousal support should be part of the divorce complaint. If the other spouse filed the complaint, the spouse seeking support should request it as part of their response to the complaint.

The spouse must provide sufficient evidence supporting their request. A spouse cannot seek this support after the divorce is final.

Spouses may reach an agreement on spousal support and ask the judge to make this agreement part of the divorce order. The judge will rule on the request when the spouses cannot reach an agreement.

Factors

The court may take several issues into consideration when considering a request for spousal support. These include the couple’s standard of living while they were married, the length of the marriage, both spouses’ age, their physical and mental conditions, each spouse’s financial resources and, when relevant, the time necessary for a spouse to obtain adequate training or education to find an appropriate job.

Other factors include each spouse’s contributions to their marriage such as homemaking, childcare and helping the other spouse with their career. The court may also review the spouses’ financial condition such as separate estates, earning ability and their fixed liabilities. A court may also review other matters that it considers as fair for its decision.

The court could take one spouse’s behavior into consideration if it led to the breakdown of the marriage. A spouse typically eligible for spousal support who committed adultery, for example, may have their support request denied.

Losing spousal support

Courts may modify periodic payments if a spouse can demonstrate that circumstances changed significantly. These circumstances may involve the paying spouse losing their job or retiring or the recipient spouse becoming employed.

Spousal support automatically ends when the recipient spouse remarries. Support may also be modified or terminated if the recipient spouse is in a long-term relationship.

An attorney can help you seek a fair and reasonable divorce that meets your needs. They may also protect your rights in negotiations and in court.