Protecting Your Financial Security By Pursuing Fair Spousal Support
Many people have misconceptions about spousal support (also known as alimony). Especially among those who are required to pay it, it is often viewed as a financial punishment the court inflicts on one spouse. This is not true.
The real goal behind spousal support in Georgia is to allow the lower earning spouse to maintain a basic standard of living while moving toward self-sufficiency, if at all possible. The amount of compensation awarded depends on a wide variety of factors, including the higher earning spouse’s ability to pay and the lower earning spouse’s needs.
At The Siemon Law Firm, our family law attorneys in Atlanta can clearly explain your rights when it comes to spousal support and other divorce disputes. We will listen to your concerns, assess the likely outcome of each legal option, and forcefully represent your interests in litigation, mediation or negotiation.
If you believe you should receive alimony — or you think your spouse will seek an unjustified level of support — you need an experienced advocate who can counsel you on expectations and tell your story accurately, with an eye to the ultimate court decision if negotiations or mediation fails to resolve the issue. To schedule a consultation, call 770-888-5120.
Alimony Awards Are Subjective, So Professional Representation Is Key
While Georgia has detailed guidelines in place for awarding child support, the state does not have a specific set of guidelines to calculate a dollar amount for spousal support. It is left up to the court’s discretion, so making sure you have knowledgeable and dedicated legal advocacy is important. This is particularly true in high net worth divorce cases involving significant assets.
In addition to diligently, lucidly and strategically presenting the evidence on your behalf in initial spousal support negotiations, our lawyers can help you request a spousal support modification if you or your ex-spouse undergoes a significant change in circumstances. Examples may include long-term unemployment, retirement or the acquisition of a higher paying job.
You Have Rights And Remedies For Past-Due Alimony
A court order requiring spousal support after your divorce is not a guarantee that your ex-spouse will actually obey the order. However, there are steps you can take to obtain the payments you are entitled to receive.
Our justice system was developed to protect your rights and provide remedies when those rights are denied. If your spouse is not paying the court-ordered amount, we can take action. The more qualified and dedicated your lawyer is in building your case, the stronger your case will be when presented to the court.
How Can I Obtain Past-Due Spousal Support?
If your spouse is willfully not paying you the support he or she owes, you can file a contempt action with the family law court. This empowers the court to enforce the order. Your spouse can be ordered to pay the money and jailed if he or she does not comply.
If your spouse can prove that he or she does not have the money to pay alimony, then the violation of the court order would not be willful and your spouse would not be guilty of contempt. However, even if your spouse is not in contempt, you can still get a judgment against your spouse for the amount that he or she is in arrears that can be used to collect the money at a later date when the defendant’s financial situation improves.
When Can Alimony Be Changed?
There are many misunderstandings about whether alimony can be changed after divorce. The answer depends on the type of alimony you are paying (or receiving) and the language in your alimony order. Our attorneys understand the law and can help you seek alimony modifications when it is legal to do so.
Alimony can be paid in a lump sum or as periodic payments in Georgia. If alimony has been paid in a lump sum, it is not modifiable. However, if alimony is paid in periodic payments, it may be modifiable, depending on the order.
The two parties in a divorce can contract to make periodic alimony (also known as spousal support in Georgia) modifiable or not modifiable. If alimony is modifiable, it can be changed if the financial circumstances of the payer or recipient have changed dramatically. For example:
- If the income of the payer increases or decreases dramatically, alimony can be increased or decreased accordingly.
- If the financial needs of the recipient increase, then alimony can be increased.
- If the financial needs of the recipient decrease, then alimony can be reduced.
When Can Alimony Payments End?
The order to pay alimony will usually specify when alimony payments end. For example, the order may say that payments may end after five years. Alimony will also end if the recipient remarries or has a meretricious relationship. To have a meretricious relationship means to cohabitate in the nature of a marriage without the legal status.
Call The Siemon Law Firm For A Confidential Consultation
Gain a realistic picture of what kind of spousal support award you may be able to pursue or defend against by consulting our experienced divorce lawyers today. Simply call The Siemon Law Firm at 770-888-5120 or send us an email to schedule a confidential meeting with an attorney. We’re conveniently located, with offices in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Marietta, and Cumming, Georgia.