I get this question a lot and a lot of clients ask for it. As a general rule I tell them it is incredibly difficult to get unless you have a seriously good reason. It was designed originally for disabled people, and mothers who will take a bit to get back into the work force.
Not only is there a child support worksheet calculator but there is an alimony calculator. This calculator is a rough estimate, not like the child support worksheet that is actual math to be followed in a court of law.
The alimony can be permanent or temporary/rehabilitative. It can be a lump-sum or paid over time. It can and usually will terminate upon the remarriage of the recipient. Two parties can even agree to the amount of time and money to be paid.
There are actual rules about alimony found in the O.C.G.A. but generally speaking, one spouse needs (not wants) the support and the other spouse can afford to pay it. How does the court determine need?
- the couple’s marital standard of living
- the length of the marriage
- each spouse’s age, physical, and emotional health
- both spouse’s financial resources
- the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or training to find appropriate employment
- each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse
- the financial conditions of each spouse, including separate property, earning capacity, and separate debts
Georgia courts also consider whether one spouse’s marital misconduct caused the breakdown of the marriage. A judge may reduce or even deny alimony for a spouse who otherwise qualifies but deserted the other spouse or committed adultery during the marriage. (Ga. Code Ann. § 19-6-1 (b) (2018).) The court may award permanent alimony to the victim of marital misconduct. (Ga. Conn Ann. § 19-6-4 (2018).)
Be warned, however: Georgia Courts can look at the behavior by BOTH PARTIES. So if you decide to burn some clothes or a car in retaliation and expect alimony, I would suggest you rethink that.
So what is considered marital misconduct? Marital misconduct includes illicit sexual relations during the marriage; criminal acts that lead to separation, neglect or abandonment, domestic abuse/violence, financial mismanagement, and addiction.
I also want to clarify what abandonment is (also known as desertion):
- The deserting spouse has been away for at least 1 year and did not resume cohabitation at any point
- The deserting spouse refuses to come back and continue cohabiting
- The deserting spouse left without the other spouse’s consent
- The deserting spouse does not have a justifiable reason (e.g. job relocation or military deployment) for leaving
- The deserting spouse left with the intention to end the marriage
- The spouse moves away, stops providing financial support, and no longer communicates with the other spouse.
- The spouse forces the other spouse to leave their marital home. This is legally referred to as constructive desertion.
- The spouse refuses to engage in marital relations or perform their marital duties.
That said, if the deserting spouse runs off but still sends a check for bills, things can get murky. It gets even less clear if there is an income deduction order or auto-draft payment for things like child support.
So… do you qualify for alimony? See the checklists above to find out.