Peachtree City and Newnan Spousal Support Lawyer Asserts Your Rights
Accomplished attorney negotiates and litigates alimony matters during and after divorces
Alimony, or spousal support, is intended to prevent spouses who relied on their partner’s income from undue financial hardship when the marriage ends. Requiring a high-earning spouse to make payments allows to continue to enjoy a standard of living close to what they would have had if they’d remained married. However, alimony is not always necessary, and there is no automatic right to spousal support. This means that couples often have to negotiate a settlement or litigate the issue in court. With offices in Peachtree City and Newnan, Thomas F. Tierney, Attorney at Law regularly represents clients in alimony proceedings as part of divorce litigation or in post-divorce actions. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience, I assemble the necessary evidence to present a persuasive argument for the outcome you desire.
Types of spousal support available in Georgia
Broadly speaking, there are two types of spousal support available in Georgia:
- Temporary alimony — Awarded during the divorce process to a dependent spouse. This may include amounts for attorney fees. This type of spousal support ends when the divorce is finalized.
- Permanent alimony — This is the alimony award given in the final divorce decree. Despite the name, this obligation is often limited to a few years. Lifetime alimony is generally reserved for marriages of long duration or situations where a dependent spouse is not capable of supporting themselves financially. The term permanent alimony encompasses periodic alimony, which is support paid in installments for a limited duration, and lump-sum alimony, which is a one-time payment. In these cases, alimony is considered rehabilitative, because it provides time for a dependent spouse to develop marketable job skills.
When spouses negotiate an alimony settlement, they can decide whether the terms can be modified in the future. If they decide to bar future adjustments, neither party can ask the court to change the terms in the future.
How do Georgia courts calculate spousal support?
There are three questions associated with alimony determinations during a divorce: Is an award necessary? How much should the amount be? How long should payments last? There is no formula for deciding, but if the parties cannot reach consensus, judges are required to consider certain factors:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances, including income, debts, and financial resources
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage
- Probable length of time required for a dependent spouse to prepare for and find suitable employment
- Any misconduct by a party that led to the dissolution of the marriage
As your advocate, I call the court’s attention to all pertinent facts that weigh in your favor or against the position your spouse has taken.
Modification of alimony orders in Georgia
If your alimony order permits modification, either party can return to court and request an upward or downward adjustment, or a termination, to the payments. The petitioner must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that justifies altering the terms. Examples of such changes include:
- The recipient spouse’s gainful employment
- A severe and likely permanent financial reversal for the paying spouse
- The recipient spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation with a supporting partner
Judges will not make changes retroactive, so you should seek a modification as soon as the change in circumstances becomes apparent.
Enforcement of alimony in Georgia
Courts can enforce payment of alimony orders through wage garnishment, tax refund intercept, bank account seizures and other sanctions. Willful nonpayment can result in contempt of court and jail time.
Contact an experienced Georgia attorney to discuss your alimony issue
Thomas F. Tierney, Attorney at Law provides knowledgeable counsel on alimony and other divorce-related matters to clients in Fayette and Coweta Counties. For a consultation, please call 770-796-4031 or contact my office online. My offices are in Peachtree City and Newnan.