Georgia law defines alimony as “an allowance out of one party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately. It is either temporary or permanent.” O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1(a). In other words, a spouse can receive financial support during and following a divorce if their ex agrees to the request to provide it or is ordered by the court to pay alimony.
You may wonder, “But how does alimony work?” To answer this, let’s start with the first stipulation:
Alimony Must Be Requested
The spouse pursuing alimony must request it at some point in the divorce proceedings. You will typically include the alimony request in your divorce papers when filing. You may also request it in response to your spouse filing for divorce.
Both parties must agree to spousal support. If neither spouse can agree to the terms of alimony, the requesting party must request a decision from the court. Each spouse will present their case to a judge, who will carefully consider the evidence before issuing an order.
If alimony is never requested at any point in the divorce proceedings or discussed during finalization, neither party may request it later.
The Supporting Spouse Has Payment Options
Whether both parties agree to alimony or the judge orders one spouse to provide payments, the supporting spouse typically may choose how to pay. The paying spouse can give a lump sum or provide periodic payments.
Lump Sum Alimony
If they have the means, the supporting spouse may pay alimony through a single lump sum payment. Lump sum alimony is a beneficial option because the court cannot modify it in the future. The paying spouse may pay either cash or marital property of the same value as the amount ordered or agreed upon.
Periodic alimony is the more common payment option and requires the supporting spouse to provide scheduled payments, typically monthly, until reaching the agreed amount. Unlike lump sum alimony, periodic alimony can be modified by the court as the supporting spouse works toward an expiration date.
Modification requests often occur when significant changes arise in the supporting or supported spouse’s life. These changes can involve:
- Either spouse’s financial status
- The supported spouse’s relationship status
The courts can also terminate periodic alimony before reaching expiration for various reasons, like:
- The supported spouse remarries or moves in with a romantic partner
- Death of either party