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What is Periodic Alimony?

What does Periodic Alimony Mean? 

Periodic alimony or alimony that takes the form of periodic payments is likely the most common and well-known form of alimony. Periodic alimony is where one party receives periodic payments of alimony over the course of a certain period of time. Normally, periodic alimony is paid in monthly or bi-monthly cash installments. However, periodic alimony may be paid in several other installment rubrics including weekly or quarterly, depending on the court's order.

What Types of Payments Count as Periodic Alimony?

Periodic alimony may also take forms other than cash payments. As alimony, one spouse may be ordered to pay any expenditure necessary to provide the other spouse with certain necessities, including food, clothing, shelter, medical care and transportation. Additionally, one spouse may be required to pay the previous outstanding debts of the recipient spouse or the educational expenses of the recipient spouse. A spouse's periodic alimony obligation may also include a requirement that the obligated spouse carry life insurance for the benefit of the recipient spouse or provide the recipient spouse with medical insurance upon divorce.

Generally, one spouse's ability to pay alimony or provide any of the necessities mentioned above is measured by that spouse's separate estate, assets, income and earning potential. Normally, it is anticipated that the obligated spouse will satisfy this periodic obligation with his or her salary or other income. However, one spouse may be ordered to pay alimony out of proceeds from that spouses business.

How is Periodic Alimony Determined or Calculated? 

Once it is determined that alimony is appropriate in the cases, the next step is to consider the receiving spouse's "need" vs. the paying spouse's "ability to pay". If it is determined that the spouse requesting alimony does not have a real "need" then the judge may choose not to award alimony. Similarly, if it is determined that the paying spouse does not have the financial ability to pay alimony, then the judge may choose not to award alimony. There is no alimony calculator in the state of Georgia. After "need vs. ability to pay" are considered, the court will consider the 8 alimony factors to help it make a determination. If increases in the obligated spouses income are anticipated, alimony may be ordered to increase according to that spouse's income or alimony may be set according to a calculation based on a certain percentage of the obligated party's income. Regardless, the amount of the periodic alimony payments must be determined in such a way that the periodic amounts are definite and ascertainable.

Should I Consider Periodic Alimony? 

Alimony in the form of periodic payments may be better for situations where alimony is set to continue for the duration of the parties' lives or is set to endure for an extended period of time. Georgia law allows for adjustments or modifications to be made to the alimony obligation according to the obligated party's income or other factors. O.C.G.A. ยง 19-6-2. This allowance for adjustment ensures that the payments will continue to meet the needs of the recipient while also matching the ability of the obligated spouse to pay.

When Does Periodic Alimony End?

On the other hand, periodic alimony, unlike lump sum alimony, is also subject to termination for certain reasons, like remarriage of the recipient party. Additionally, periodic alimony leaves the recipient exposed to the possibility that the obligated spouse will make untimely payments or refuse to pay totally, making it necessary for the recipient spouse to seek a contempt order from the court. See our pages concerning lump sum alimony and termination of alimony to learn more about the differences between periodic alimony and lump sum alimony and the reasons alimony may be terminated.

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