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Georgia alimony awards determined by 'means and needs'

Alimony, or spousal support, seems like it should be very cut and dried. If one spouse is financially worse off after a marriage due to years spent out of the workforce raising children, for example, he should be granted alimony until he can support himself. However, spousal support is not usually so simple under Georgia family law.

In recent years, Georgia family law judges have increasingly granted alimony on a case-by-case basis, tending away from an automatic grant of support. This means that judges will examine the specific situation of each couple, awarding alimony based on each spouse's 'means and needs,' as stated by an author for the Huffington Post, at the time of divorce and in the future. As a result, spousal support tends to look quite different from couple to couple. But there are a few similar quirks in alimony laws that could affect many divorced spouses very similarly.

First, many spouses may have to pay spousal support for a longer time than they anticipate paying. The fact that a former spouse is now living with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, or even that he or she has remarried, may not relieve you from alimony payments. Judges will generally only look at your former spouse's means and needs, although the income of their new partner or spouse will likely factor in to this calculation.

Further, you may be required to continue making alimony payments after your death. Again, if your former spouse's means and needs calculation requires it, your estate may be responsible for spousal support long after you are gone.

If you have any questions about your alimony award, contact a Georgia family law attorney to discuss your situation and your options.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Support Arguments That Don't Matter in Divorce Court," Georgialee Lang, Oct. 20, 2011

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