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Alimony in Georgia

by Meriwether & Tharp LLP

When you say the word "alimony", the first thing that comes to mind is divorce. Even though most people have heard the word, most people do not truly know what it means. According to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(a), alimony is defined as "an allowance out of one party's estate made for the support of the other party when living separately". There are several misconceptions about alimony. Some people may feel that they are automatically entitled to alimony regardless of the length of the marriage or the financial situation of the parties. Others may feel that they will be awarded enough alimony to continue living the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed during their marriage.

When a judge grants alimony, there are several factors that he or she uses to determine whether to award alimony and the duration of alimony in a case. First, if one of the parties has committed adultery or has abandoned their spouse during his or her marriage, then the judge most likely will not grant alimony in a case according to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(b). Also, the judge will take into account the financial needs of the parties and the ability of one of the parties to pay alimony to the other party according to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(c). If the parties make approximately the same amount of money per year, it is highly doubtful that the judge will award alimony to one of the parties in a divorce. Once the judge has heard all of the evidence, it is under his or her discretion whether to award alimony in a case. Just because the parties are getting divorced does not automatically mean that a judge will award alimony to one of the parties in the case.

In Georgia, a judge can award alimony on either a temporary or permanent basis. The difference between temporary and permanent alimony depends on whether the divorce is final. According to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-3(a), temporary alimony is awarded "when an action for divorce or permanent alimony is pending". For one of the parties to receive temporary alimony, the parties must have a hearing in front of the judge according to O.C.G.A. § 19-6-3(a) and the judge will decide whether to award temporary alimony and the amount of alimony based on the financial needs of one of the parties and the facts of the case. If the judge allows temporary alimony, he or she will enter into an order requiring one party to pay alimony to the other party during the course of their divorce. Permanent alimony, however, is awarded when the parties' divorce is final and the judge has executed the Final Judgment and Decree. People are often confused about the definition of permanent alimony because it does not mean that the one of the parties is required to pay alimony to his or her spouse for the remainder of his or her life.

The law firm of Meriwether & Tharp was established in 1998 in Norcross, Georgia by partners Patrick L. Meriwether and Robert L. Tharp. In 2000, the offices were relocated from Norcross to Alpharetta, Georgia and the firm began expanding its professional staff and focusing its practice on family and business law matters, including divorce, contempt, and modification actions. At Meriwether & Tharp our experienced family law attorneys recognize that domestic troubles can be emotionally and financially taxing. Our lawyers provide personal, individualized legal services, covering the full spectrum of family law issues.

They can be contacted by phone at (678) 879-9000 or
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