Are you or a loved one in the process of a divorce in Georgia and have questions? Check out these 3 alimony tips, then call our alimony lawyers today.
1. Determining Alimony
I attended a mediation last month with a client who was eligible for alimony and the parties had determined that that was something that she needed in order to remain financially stable following the divorce. The biggest question was to determine the amount of alimony that is needed and how a trial court would calculate that amount. Unfortunately, under Georgia law, we don’t have an established formula for calculating and setting alimony in divorce cases. The judge is going to look at one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay and that can range dramatically even throughout the life of a divorce case. Parties may be employed or may have changes of income while a divorce is pending, so it’s imperative that we show the judge one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay over a certain period of time. Ultimately, we look at the last three years of one party’s budget, being their need of financial support, and the other party’s three years of income, or their ability to pay. We also would consider factors, such as if one party’s going to retire soon and what kind of retirement income they may have, or is one party’s job unstable where they may not make that much from year to year. All these factors we would want to consider and present to the judge so that ultimately the judge can make a deciding factor on what the formula is, how much alimony would be, and what would be appropriate in your circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s a moving target throughout the divorce case.
2. Length of Alimony
I was meeting with a client last month and he was willing to pay alimony to his spouse. However, the question was how long should he be obligated to do it? In Georgia, there’s no set formula for how long alimony lasts or how much alimony can be for every month or every year, so long as alimony exists. It oftentimes, based on your circumstances and your facts, will be determined that alimony should last for X number of years. Ultimately, if you’ve not been married for ten years or longer, alimony may not be on the table for you. If you have been married for longer than ten years, especially if you get up to 20, 25, 30 years of marriage, then the court is going to look at an alimony obligation and determine how long the alimony should last. There are lots of factors that could go into that, whether your spouse is employed or could be employed, whether with some schooling or education they could go into the workforce and make a substantial amount of money that maybe they didn’t already have, then alimony may be set for three to five years to allow them to transition into the workforce and get an education and move along in their financial status. However, if you have someone who’s elderly, who’s not going to enter back into the workforce, you may have alimony obligations for a longer period of time. It’s very rare now that alimony lasts a lifetime. However, Georgia law still does allow that. A judge may say, based on the circumstances, that alimony should be endless until at least the other person dies or remarries. In that circumstance, there may not be a year or a time period that alimony would cease. However, it’s more normal, and especially in our circuit or with our local judges, that they’re going to designate a number of months or a number of years that that alimony is going to last. That’s going to be based on how long you’ve been married, and one spouse’s need versus the other spouse’s ability to pay. They also factor in any kind of facts such as educations or other means as you transition into divorced life. Those facts and circumstances may lead a court to plug in alimony for a certain period of time.
3. Definition of Alimony
I was meeting with a client last week and she was very concerned how she was going to be financially stable after her divorce case was complete. She wanted to know what alimony was and whether she was even eligible for alimony. Under Georgia law, alimony is available to those who are in financial need after the divorce case is over. Alimony is essentially spousal support, some financial means for a spouse to be able to maintain a lifestyle after the divorce is finalized. Now, that does not mean that you’re going to maintain the same lifestyle. Ultimately, in most cases, both spouses are going to see a change in financial resources, and ultimately, a change in their lifestyle after the divorce is completed. However, alimony is able to come into play and the judge can grant it so that one spouse over the other will be able to continue on in their life without any major hiccups or financial strain. Now, alimony in our circuit and our local judges is a very complicated thing. Georgia does not have a set calculation or formula for alimony. Unlike child support that is based on a very strict formula, Georgia law does not outline how alimony should be calculated.
Ultimately, alimony is going to go to the judge as a request, and we would want to come up with a number based on your needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay. The judge is going to come up with a number for your spousal support, whether that’s monthly or yearly. The judge has a discretion to say whether that alimony is short lived while maybe you go find a job, or whether it’s long-term until you remarry. Sometimes that would occur in the case where the spouse has a very high paying job and is making lots of money and the wife is a stay-at-home mom— that’s a normal fact pattern our judges see. The judge is going to determine for how long that person would be eligible for alimony under that circumstance. The judge can grant other financial resources as a form of alimony, such as a piece of property that maybe you could sell or rent out for financial income and that could be considered a form of spousal support or alimony. While alimony is a very complicated issue, we oftentimes see that the parties are able to agree ahead of time as to what the alimony or spousal support obligation would be. Ultimately, if no agreement is reached, a court will consider alimony and make a decision based on what evidence is presented at trial.
Are you or a loved one in the process of a divorce in Statesboro, Springfield, or Swainsboro and have questions about these 3 alimony tips? Contact the experienced Georgia divorce attorneys at Hall & Navarro today for a consultation and case evaluation. We can help get your life back on track.