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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.
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.
Different Types of Alimony
I was speaking with a current client the other day in whose situation we had already determined that alimony was going to be something that would be a factor for her based on her financial situation, the other party’s income, and his ability to pay her alimony following a very lengthy marriage. There are different types of alimony in Georgia. Those alimony types can come into play and benefit certain people, whereas the other type would benefit some other folks. For a lump sum alimony, which is one type of alimony in Georgia, you may want a one-time payout for a piece of property or another investment account. You may want all the control of that alimony so that you can invest it, reinvest it, spend it the way you wish, or purchase a home if you have moved out of the marital residence. That lump sum alimony is a one-time payment. There’s also periodic alimony, which is paid out throughout a certain period of time as established by the judge and at a certain monthly or yearly amount. That circumstance may benefit you because it helps you live the lifestyle that you’ve already established, and you can count on that payment for a certain period of time. Now, there is alimony in Georgia that can be modified by the court if there’s a change of circumstance. Some people don’t like that option. They don’t like that they don’t know for sure for a period of time that they’re going to be receiving this alimony payment, which is why some people would rather get more money upfront in a lump sum amount or maybe more money for a shorter period of time. Ultimately, if you’re negotiating, you can talk about those different types of alimony with the other side and reach an agreement. By the time you go to a trial, you would want to have already established in your mind what type of alimony you would want and what better benefits you so that we can ask the court for a specific type, whether it’s lump sum or periodic alimony.
Are you or a loved one in the process of a divorce in Statesboro, Springfield, or Swainsboro and have questions alimony in Georgia? You need to act now and start your alimony claim before it’s too late. Contact the experienced Georgia divorce attorneys at Hall & Navarro today for a consultation and case evaluation.
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