What should I know about alimony?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Alimony laws in Georgia


What is alimony?

Alimony is money for support paid to a spouse by the other spouse.  Alimony can last for a short time or a long time. The court usually awards alimony only when a long-term marriage ends.  One person must show a need for support, while the other person must have the ability to pay.

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What are my rights in seeking alimony?

Georgia law allows either spouse to ask for alimony. However, the court will grant alimony only if it finds it is necessary. 

You can apply for either permanent or temporary alimony.

  • Permanent Alimony: continues for a long period of time and is usually awarded when one of the parties is unable to work due to age, physical, or mental illness. In Georgia, there is a high standard for an award of permanent alimony.

  • Short-term Alimony: meant as a short term solution to help one spouse get back on their feet. This is generally awarded when one spouse stayed at home during the marriage and needs more school or job training in order to find a job. 

The court will look at several factors when deciding whether to award alimony. The court will look at:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
  • The financial resources of each party;
  • Where applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him to find appropriate employment;
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;
  • The condition of the parties, including the separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed liabilities of the parties; and
  • Any other factors that the court finds fair.

The court will also consider whether one spouse’s actions led to the breakdown of the marriage. A spouse who would usually be eligible for alimony, but committed adultery, might not be granted alimony.

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What are my responsibilities?

If you wish to seek alimony, you are responsible for including your request in your petition for divorce. You cannot ask for alimony after a divorce is final. If you request alimony, it is your responsibility to provide evidence showing that it is necessary.

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How can I get alimony?

You can ask for alimony as part of a divorce proceeding. If you file a complaint for divorce, you should ask for alimony as part of that petition. If your spouse starts the divorce proceedings, then you ask for alimony in your response. There are several ways to get alimony during your divorce:

  • If you and your spouse reach an agreement about alimony, you can ask the judge to make the agreement a part of the divorce order.
  • If you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will decide whether you are entitled to alimony.

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How can I lose alimony?

A court can modify periodic alimony payments if either spouse can show that there's been a significant change in the circumstances. A significant change in circumstances could mean the spouse paying alimony lost a job, retired from a job, or the spouse getting the alimony got a job. Alimony automatically stops when the person who receives the alimony gets remarried. A court will also sometimes modify or terminate alimony if the person who gets the alimony is in a long-term relationship, even if they are not legally married.

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Last Review and Update: Mar 27, 2022
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