In Georgia, the award of alimony is very subjective. Unlike child support, which is based on a spreadsheet calculator, alimony is based on the subjective concept of need and ability to pay, as well as other factors such as length of marriage and conduct of the parties.
Alimony in Georgia is usually considered to be rehabilitative, meaning that its purpose is to help support someone while they work towards becoming self supporting. Therefore, the length of time alimony payments are to continue will vary depending on the circumstances of the parties.
The need for and the ability to pay alimony, will be determined by looking at the current incomes or income potential of the parties, their financial needs for food, housing and other basic expenses as well as any assets they will possess after the divorce. The money available to be paid in alimony (the ability to pay), is determined by looking at the amount of money the paying spouse would have available after his or her basic needs and obligations are met. Once this ability to pay is determined, the court will look for a need from the receiving spouse. If the receiving spouse has the ability to work and earn some income or if the receiving spouse has substantial separate assets or will be receiving substantial assets in the divorce then those resources may reduce that spouse's need for alimony. Once all of these factors are considered the court will determine the amount of alimony that is appropriate.
Alimony is not a punishment or a penalty for the paying spouse and the purpose of alimony is not to even up the incomes of the parties. The fact that the paying spouse has committed some sort of bad conduct is not generally considered to have a direct affect on the amount or term of alimony payments. That being said, if the paying spouse's bad conduct was the cause of the breakup of the marriage, this can certainly be considered by the court.
Georgia has some bars to alimony, the most common of which is adultery. Georgia law states that if a spouse commits adultery and the adultery is the cause of the breakup of the marriage, then that spouse is not entitled to receive alimony from the innocent spouse.
Alimony can be awarded on a temporary basis, meaning, while the divorce is underway. This temporary alimony can be awarded for the purpose of paying one spouse's living expenses during the divorce and can also be ordered to cover the receiving spouse's legal expenses.
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