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Introduction to alimony in Georgia


Georgia law governing alimony, also called spousal support, is still fairly traditional.

In a divorce or separation, an alimony award can make a significant difference in the standard of living of the parties going forward. The parties may be able to negotiate a settlement that includes provisions for alimony that they can agree upon. Otherwise, the judge will make all decisions related to alimony.

Alimony is the payment of support from one spouse to the other. Depending on the situation, whether alimony is awarded and the size of the payments can make a difference in the size and quality of homes and vehicles the parties purchase as well as in the ability to vacation and engage in leisure activities.

Georgia alimony law is rather unique in how it addresses marital misconduct like adultery, cruelty, abuse, hiding money or assets or similarly negative behavior. In some states, marital misconduct is one relevant factor to consider in the alimony question, while in others, judges may not consider misconduct in this regard.

Georgia, however, has a unique, major focus on harmful marital behavior in the context of alimony. If the evidence shows that a party’s adultery or desertion caused the parties’ separation, the judge may not award alimony to that person. In every alimony decision, the judge must consider evidence of the “factual cause of the separation.”

Further, the statute says that the court may (not must) award alimony if one party needs it and the other has the ability to pay, but that the court “shall consider evidence of the conduct of each party toward the other.” This provision goes beyond traditional marital misconduct and seems to reach any kind of negative (or positive) behavior toward the other party.

Beyond this, Georgia statute directs the judge to consider any relevant factor that they think “equitable and proper,” as well as specific factors in a list:

  • Marital standard of living
  • Length of marriage
  • Each person’s age and physical and emotional health
  • Each party’s financial resources
  • Length of time it would take for an unemployed or unemployed party to get the training or education needed to find appropriate employment
  • Each person’s marital contributions, including support of the other party in their education and career as well as homemaker and child care services
  • Each party’s debt, separate property and earning capacity

An alimony award may be for a temporary time period or permanent. Unless the settlement agreement or court order states otherwise, alimony ends if the recipient remarries or the divorcing parties cohabit again.

The lawyers at Shawn P. Hammond and Associates in Augusta, Georgia, represent clients throughout the surrounding counties and on area military bases in matters related to divorce and other family law matters.