Alimony and Spousal Support

Georgia Alimony and Spousal Support Lawyer

Alimony is ultimately determined by examining once spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay. The Judge or Jury can consider numerous factors in determining whether alimony should be awarded including, but not limited to:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Causes of separation
  • Standard of living
  • Financial Resources
  • If applicable, time necessary to obtain education and training for employment
  • Contributions, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career building
  • Condition of the parties, including separate estate, earning capacity and fixed liabilities
  • Such other factors as are equitable and proper

At Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP we will discuss each of these factors with you to determine if alimony is appropriate in your case.

Types of Alimony

There are two types of alimony in the State of Georgia. First, there is “lump sum alimony”. Second, there is periodic alimony. Lump sum alimony has a set amount and is not subject to conditions like remarriage. Generally, periodic alimony is subject to a certain period of time, i.e., five years, ten years, remarriage, or the happening of an event. The duration is indefinite and the amount is indefinite as it is subject to various time constraints. Periodic alimony can be modified but lump sum and in kind alimony cannot. Click on the title to read our article on Adultery and its Effect on Alimony.

At Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP we will discuss these issues with you to ensure your rights and interests are fully protected under Georgia Law. Contact Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP at 678-928-5757 .

Modification of Alimony

Lump sum and in kind alimony cannot be modified. Only periodic alimony is modifiable. Either the person paying or the person receiving alimony can file a modification action. The burden is on the person filing to prove by a preponderance of evidence that there has been a substantial change in the income and financial status of either former spouse to warrant a revision. The Court must determine if there has been a material change in income and financial status of either spouse. And, if so, does that change warrant a modification and revision?

Ultimately, the Court cannot shorten or lengthen the time in which periodic payments are to be made; however, nothing prevents the Court from modifying the obligation down to zero. The issue is whether there has been a substantial change in income and financial status of either party that warrants a downward or upward modification of the alimony previously awarded. A substantial change in either income or financial status, but not both, is necessary in a modification action.

Two Year Rule: A modification action can be filed at any time after the original Order establishing the alimony obligation. However, once a modification has been filed and ruled upon, that spouse must wait at least two years before filing his or her second modification action. Contact Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP at 678-928-5757 for more information.

Meretricious Relationship / Live in Lover Statute

The voluntary cohabitation of a former spouse with a third party in a meretricious relationship is grounds to modify the provisions for periodic payments. However, Georgia Law does not mandate reduction or termination in the event the former spouse takes a live-in lover. The burden is on the person filing the Petition for Modification to establish:

  • That the former spouse has entered into a meretricious relationship with a third party
  • The cohabitation warrants a modification and revision of the alimony obligation

“Alimony is based on an ex-spouse’s need, and if in reality that need decreases, alimony probably should be reduced or even terminated. Logically, it should make no difference whether the ex-spouse has remarried, is living in a meretricious relationship with a person of the opposite sex or living with a gay partner. In a perfect world, it ought to be about the financial reality that counts”. See Van Dyck v. Van Dyck, 262 GA 720 (1993).

It is important that you communicate with a lawyer to determine if the Settlement Agreement incorporated language regarding the entry into a “meretricious relationship".

Waiver of Modification Rights

Either party to an alimony agreement retains the right to seek modification unless the agreement expressly and specifically waives that right. When an agreement unequivocally waives the right to revision of alimony and specifically cites O.C.G.A. § 19-6-19, et seq. then no judiciary inquiry is required. A Court cannot require a party to waive their right to seek future modification of alimony.

To learn more about alimony and modification, contact Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP at 678-928-5757 .