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Death of Either Spouse

Death of Either Spouse

Not only may alimony terminate upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient spouse with third party, alimony also terminates in Georgia upon the death of the obligated party. Specifically, Georgia law states:

“After permanent alimony is granted, upon the death of the party liable for the alimony the other party shall not be entitled to any further interest in the estate of the deceased party by virtue of the marriage contract between the parties; however, such permanent provision shall be continued to the other party or a portion of the deceased party's estate equivalent to the permanent provision shall be set apart to the other party.”

O.C.G.A. § 19-6-7.

In essence, the above provision means that once the obligated spouse dies, his or her obligation to make periodic alimony payments terminates. But, if the alimony was intended as lump sum alimony or if the payments were meant to constitute a property settlement, these obligations may be collected from the deceased spouse’s estate. Donaldson v. Baldwin, 224 GA. 680 (1968). As with the other two circumstances under which alimony may be terminated, the parties may agree that the deceased spouse’s estate will be held liable should the obligated spouse die prior to the end of the alimony term. Schartle v. Trust Company Bank, 239 Ga. 248 (1977). For example, if the wife is obligated to pay the husband alimony for a term of 5 years and the wife dies with three years left in the alimony term, the wife’s estate may be held liable for the remaining three years of alimony payments if the parties made such an agreement.

Not only is an award of alimony terminable at the death of the obligated party, but also alimony terminates at the death of the recipient party. The rationale behind this is that the receipt of alimony is considered to be personal to the recipient. Brooks v. Jones, 227 Ga. 566 (1971). Thus, alimony terminates on the death of the recipient spouse in lieu of being awarded to that spouse’s heirs or assignees.