How Long Does Spousal Support Last in Georgia?
Spousal support, or alimony as it is sometimes called, is monetary assistance paid by one spouse to another after the marriage is over. Such support is typically provided where the income-earning potential of one spouse is significantly less than needed to preserve the standard of living they were used to in the marriage. This could be because of a spouse’s advanced age, lack of employability or absence from the workforce for an extended period of time. If former spouses cannot agree to a settlement, the party seeking support may ask for an order from the court.
While it is possible to receive permanent, i.e. lifetime, spousal support in Georgia, the circumstances in which a court will grant such support are rare. Most awards of spousal support are limited in duration based on a number of factors, including these:
- Each spouse’s share of the marital assets and both spouses’ independent resources
- The need for support, which takes into account the dependent spouse’s ability to be self-employed
- The physical condition of both spouses, insofar as it pertains to the need for and ability to pay support
- How long the spouses were married
Of all these factors, the last one is typically the most determinative in fixing the duration of a spousal support award. Although there is no formula set by law in Georgia, judges may use as a yardstick a grant of one year of support for every three years of marriage. So a spouse married for 30 years would, under that scenario, receive post-divorce support for 10 years. However, since there is no hard and fast rule, it is possible for a longer duration to be awarded, such as for an elder spouse who has no prospects for entering the workforce. Similarly, shorter durations are possible if a spouse is likely to become self-supporting relatively soon after the divorce.
Whatever duration of spousal support is awarded, it can be terminated early for specific reasons. The most common reason is the receiving spouse remarrying or cohabitating with another romantic partner. Cohabitation requires solid proof that may be difficult to obtain. In addition, spousal support is subject to being modified if the paying spouse receives a significant reduction in income or if the receiving spouse experiences a sudden windfall or gets a much higher-paying job.
An experienced divorce attorney can provide guidance on how spousal support might be calculated in your case and how long it could last. An attorney can help you evaluate the factors that might impact spousal support in order to help achieve the fairest award possible, whether you are the recipient or the payer.
At the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, Georgia, we represent divorcing spouses in all aspects of the legal process, including spousal support determinations. Please call 470-344-8550 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.