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Alimony in Georgia: Spousal Support Myths and Common Questions

Alimony in Georgia can mean many things for different people. The amount of money you pay or receive will be determined by a number of factors, including your current income and liabilities. Read on to learn how spousal support is calculated.

If you are considering divorce in Georgia, you may find yourself struggling to make sense of phrases like alimony and spousal support. And you are not alone. Divorce terminology is so overwhelming to Americans that publications like Divorce Magazine and Glamour feature divorce terminology guides. And while these guides can be helpful, they rarely reflect specific Georgia laws. If you are looking for a clear, accurate explanation of the difference between spousal support and alimony in Georgia, the single best thing to do is to reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer in the Peach State.

What “Alimony in Georgia” Actually Means

Most people have heard the word “alimony” referenced. The word alimony was derived from the Latin word alimonia, and emerged in the 17th Century. It refers to a maintenance payment from one spouse to another after a divorce and can be either short-term or long-term.
Georgia law defines alimony as follows:
“Alimony is an allowance out of one party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately. It is either temporary or permanent.” – Georgia Code § 19-6-1 et seq.

What is spousal support and does it differ from alimony?

Spousal support differs very little from alimony. The primary difference is the age of the two terms. While alimony was the dominant phrase used to describe financial support centuries ago, the phrase spousal support is a more modern legal term that describes the same set of circumstances. Like alimony, spousal support helps lower-wage-earning spouses keep a standard of living that mirrors their standard of living while they were married.

What can you expect if you are awarded spousal support or alimony?

There is no specific formula for deciding how much alimony in Georgia may be awarded and for what period of time. Judges have a fair amount of leeway when deciding this issue.
If you are like most people going through a divorce in Georgia, you are not sure what to expect with regard to spousal support payments. You may wonder how much you can expect to receive, how long your payments will last, and if there are any restrictions on payments. Here is a look at what you can expect to receive if the court awards alimony or spousal support to you:

  • Your payments will be based upon the assets and liabilities you and your spouse shared while you were married
  • Your payments might be changed or reduced if you remarry or become a dependent to another individual
  • Your eligibility for alimony could be limited if you engaged in adultery, abusive behavior, or other harmful actions
  • Your payments will cease if either you or your former spouse passes away

Common Myths About Alimony in Georgia

Dispelling the myths about alimony is not always easy. And without an experienced divorce lawyer to offer clarification, some people end up being surprised or disappointed with their alimony agreement. You can help avoid this pitfall by familiarizing yourself with a few of the key misconceptions surrounding alimony payments. Below are three common myths about alimony in Georgia:

Myth #1: The lower-wage-earning spouse is guaranteed to receive alimony

There are no absolute alimony guarantees in Georgia. While lower-earning-spouses who go through a divorce are usually awarded alimony, you cannot ever assume that alimony will be guaranteed as a part of your divorce settlement. For example, eligibility is often limited or nullified if the marriage was excessively short or if the lower-wage-earning spouse was unfaithful or abandoned the marriage.

Myth #2: You have to go to court to receive alimony in Georgia

In Georgia, divorcing couples essentially have two choices to arrive at an alimony agreement. They can finalize an alimony agreement through litigation in the Georgia Family Court or they can mutually agree on an alimony arrangement. If you and your spouse are able to establish an alimony agreement through mutual agreement, you may be able to avoid going to court.

Myth #3: Alimony payments are tax-free

Alimony payments are not tax-free in Georgia. They are considered to be taxable income at the federal level. If you are required to make alimony payments to your ex-spouse, you are able to deduct the amount that you pay when you file your taxes. Be sure to file a Form 1040 to note your deduction, as Forms 1040EZ and 1040A do not have an area to note this deduction.

Considering Divorce?

Navigating the complexities of divorce is not an easy process- especially when you are contending with mounting stress. The best step to take to ensure that you receive a fair divorce settlement is to reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer. A skilled Atlanta divorce lawyer will work tirelessly to make sure that you receive your fair share of money and other marital assets.
Contact us today to discover why we are Georgia’s most trusted legal experts.