Alimony . . . the Great Unknown

Alimony is support that one spouse pays to the other spouse. Alimony can come in many forms, such as cash payments, use of a house, or payment of bills. An award of alimony can also be paid over time or in a lump sum payment. In addition, an award of alimony can also have tax consequences for both parties. So, how do you determine what amount of alimony, if any, should be awarded?

In Georgia, unlike with the calculation of child support, there is no formula or chart to determine if alimony is appropriate, how much should be paid, or for how long it should be paid. Rather, in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded, certain factors are considered, including but not limited to the standard of living established during the marriage; the duration of the marriage; the financial resources of each party; the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him/her to find appropriate employment; the conduct of the parties; as well as the contributions of each party to the marriage (e.g., services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party, etc.).

Before a spouse can address what, if any, is a reasonable award of alimony, the short and long term goals of the parties need to be assessed. What are the financial needs of the requesting spouse? What is the financial ability of paying spouse? The totality of the circumstances need to be considered in arriving at a reasonable award through negotiation or in order to make the best possible argument to a judge or jury. In the end, the proper award of alimony is unknown unless the proper preparations are made to justify a spouse’s request before he or she walks into a courtroom.