What Type of Spousal Support Matches My Circumstances?

Spousal support (or alimony) is typically awarded in divorces to help one spouse get back on their feet and become financially independent (when one is in need and the other is able to provide spousal support).

How Spousal Support Is “Calculated”

The courts typically take a variety of factors into account when determining whether one spouse should provide financial support to the other during or after divorce, including the length of the marriage, behavior (adultery) during marriage, marital standard of living, each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, earning capacity, age and physical condition, time needed to obtain training for employment, and financial resources.

Types of Support Awarded

The following are different types of spousal support that may be awarded in the state of Georgia, as well as their effects.

Lump-sum: This is typically one fixed amount paid instead of a property settlement and regardless of need. It also does not cease upon the payee spouse’s death, because Georgia courts have held that “lump sum alimony” is in the nature of a property settlement, regardless of its designation as alimony instead of a property settlement. Such “lump sum alimony” may be paid either at once or in specified installments. The Georgia Supreme Court found that if the words of the documents creating the obligation state the exact number of payments to be made without other limitations, conditions or statements of intent, the obligation is one of lump sum alimony, payable in installments.

Periodic: In contrast to “lump sum alimony,” under Georgia law, the obligation to pay periodic alimony terminates upon either the death of the payer spouse or the death of the payee spouse.

Temporary/rehabilitative or permanent (after divorce is final): Temporary payments are intended to last only for a specific time period until the spouse receiving them has, arguably, become self-sufficient.

Conversely, courts are hesitant to grant permanent alimony. It is more likely to be awarded when one spouse has particularly poor outlook regarding employment (usually because of disability), and continues until this spouse remarries or there is another major life change, such as a significant inheritance or job obtained.

Reimbursement: This type of alimony is intended to compensate any spouse that put the other spouse through a particular training or education (career program) during the marriage. It is awarded without regard to need on the part of the spouse being reimbursed.

Adjustments and Termination

Alimony payments can be modified or terminated based on changed circumstances; for example, if one spouse is able to obtain a job and financial independence, if the other possibly lost their job, or if the recipient spouse gets remarried. What might surprise most people is that cohabitation with someone else can also affect spousal support payments, even if cohabitation is with a friend (particularly if financial support is received).

Edwards & Associates Can Provide You With Options

At Edwards & Associates, we are committed to sitting down with you and discussing your circumstances and goals to arrive at the right financial decision for you. We work towards those goals using the appropriate strategy, whether that be mediation, negotiation, or litigation. We will protect your and your loved ones interests in these difficult times.