Couples going through a high-asset divorce will likely disagree on numerous financial matters. For example, it is common for spouses to disagree about how to split up their property.
When one spouse has left the workforce to raise children or maintain the family home, there could also be a dispute related to their request for alimony, sometimes called spousal support or maintenance. The Georgia family courts have the authority under state law to award alimony to either spouse in a divorce.
Typically, alimony is a short-term or temporary award intended to help one spouse get to a point where they can earn a living wage. When might be Georgia family courts consider issuing a permanent alimony award in a divorce?
When one spouse abandoned the other
Spousal abandonment is one of the reasons for permanent alimony stated in Georgia law. If one spouse leaves the other and refuses to provide financial or social support in accordance with their marital vows, the courts could hold that spouse responsible for their actions by awarding the other permanent alimony.
When the spouses divorce very late in life or due to health issues
Gray divorces or the separation of spouses who have spent decades together and who are close to retirement have become more common in recent years. There are numerous financial considerations that impact a gray divorce, including retirement benefits and pensions. In scenarios where the courts cannot split retirement benefits in a gray divorce, they might order permanent alimony to balance out the issue.
The courts may also award permanent alimony to a spouse divorced because of a health condition. If one spouse leaves the other because they are about to undergo chemotherapy, the inability of the spouse with the medical condition to support themselves will influence how the courts handle support.
When one spouse has a long-term responsibility to a child with special needs
If the family has a child with significant special needs, the parents may have agreed that one would stay home to take care of the child. Not only has this parent given up career advancement opportunities and income, but they also likely feel a sense of responsibility to the child.
If the child will remain dependent for the rest of their lives, the courts may order one of the other parents to pay the custodial parent permanent alimony in addition to child support for the work the parent does in caring for the child.
Understanding when the court might grant you permanent or long-term alimony can help you set realistic expectations for your upcoming divorce.