E. Noreen Banks-Ware
How Is Spousal Support Awarded in Georgia?
Georgia, which has one of the nation’s highest marriage rates, also has one of the nation’s highest divorce rates — with roughly 14 married persons divorcing out of every 1,000. The national average, in contrast, is closer to 11 per 1,000 married persons.
Divorce typically involves a division of shared assets such as the home and joint possessions. When children are involved, issues regarding custody and financial support can also come into play. In some cases, spousal support — or what is commonly referred to as alimony — may also be involved, especially if one spouse may need help surviving independently without their spouse.
So how is spousal support determined in Georgia? To put it simply, it’s decided by the judge in divorce court and can be either temporary or permanent.
If you’re involved in divorce proceedings, you may be going through a time of high emotion when quick or rash decisions can have a lasting impact. That’s why it is so important to seek qualified legal counsel so that you can have your side of the issue heard compassionately and fully. At E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC you’ll have the opportunity to work with an attorney who has dealt with family separation issues since 1991. If you live in Lithonia, Georgia, or any of the surrounding communities, reach out to E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC today. You’ll receive clear and trustworthy advice throughout the legal process.
Temporary vs. Permanent
Alimony was fairly common when a marriage would often involve one partner who chose to stay at home to be the home-keeper and/or child-raiser while the other spouse would work and provide the main source of income for the family.
Things can be a little trickier these days when both parties often work. Oftentimes there may be income disparities, and going it alone may involve new, additional expenses. For example, hiring child care or paying rent on a new place may become significantly more challenging now that you are relying on one salary versus two.
These issues in Georgia are addressed through two types of spousal support – temporary and permanent. Temporary alimony may be awarded by the judge to help one spouse financially through the divorce process. This form of alimony can last anywhere from several months to more than a year. Permanent alimony may then be awarded at the conclusion of divorce proceedings when temporary support automatically ends. Factors in awarding permanent alimony include age or disability, and subsequently reduced chances at employment.
What Factors are Considered When Determining Alimony?
Despite what many people believe, either party can request alimony. The judge then has to determine if the requesting party truly needs the spousal support and whether the other party has the ability to pay. Factors to be considered in deciding alimony include:
- The couple’s standard of living prior to divorce
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age, physical and emotional status
- Financial resources available to each spouse, including assets, income, and personal debt
- The time the requesting spouse may need to be trained to secure suitable employment
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including childcare, education, and the career-building of the other spouse
After the judge considers these and other factors, he can award a monetary payment — usually monthly — to the other spouse in need and determine the length that it would be necessary to be paid. However, if the requesting spouse deserted the other spouse or was involved in adultery, the judge may deny the request altogether.
Can Alimony Orders Be Subsequently Modified?
If the person ordered to pay alimony refuses to do so or skips payments, the court can slap fines or even jail time on the offender. Additionally, there may be circumstances that lead the paying spouse to request modifications on the court order due to personal or financial issues. Conversely, it’s also possible that the supported spouse runs into additional financial trouble? If either scenario arises, is a modification possible?
The short answer is yes. Either party can request a modification to the order by the presiding court. The only roadblock would be if both parties agreed in the divorce proceedings not to seek a modification.
Tax Factors to Be Considered
Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that took effect in 2019, the paying spouse may also be able to claim a deduction for spousal support payments. This ended on January 1 of that year. That’s why it’s important to involve legal counsel in divorce proceedings so that all factors — including tax issues — can be taken into account.
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In an issue as complex and emotionally challenging as divorce, you certainly don’t want to face these issues alone. You should seek experienced legal counsel who can help you navigate the complexities of alimony and divorce court proceedings.
If you live in Lithonia, Georgia, or nearby in Decatur, Conyers, Covington, McDonough, or Lawrenceville, Georgia, the E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience guiding families through the challenges of divorce and spousal support and stands ready to help you. When you choose the E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC, you’ll receive personalized attention to develop the best possible legal strategy. Call today for a case consultation.