In Georgia, alimony is awarded on a “needs vs. ability to pay” basis. This means that alimony can be awarded to either party in accordance with the needs of the party requesting the alimony and the ability of the other party to pay.” O.C.G.A.§ 19-6-1(c). In determining “needs vs. ability to pay,” Georgia law requires several factors to be considered: the standard of living during the marriage; the duration of the marriage; the age, physical and emotional conditions of both parties; the financial resources of each party; the time necessary for either party to acquire education/training necessary to find appropriate employment; the contrunition of each party to the marriage; the separate estate, earning capacity and fixed liabilities of each party; and any other relevant factor. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-5(a).
Using similar standards, Mary J. Blige was just ordered to pay temporary alimony to her estranged husband, Martin Isaacs. Mary J. Blige Ordered to Pay Spousal Support, Nothing Close to What Hubby Wanted, tmz.com, June 8, 2017. In looking at the circumstances of the case, the Judge found that Isaacs was entitled to alimony “to accommodate the standard of living he was used to while married to Mary.” However, the Judge also noted that the couple was living well beyond their means during their marriage and still owed millions in back taxes. Thus, Mary was only ordered to pay Isaacs $30,000/month in temporary alimony. Using the word “only” in relation to that amount of alimony may seem silly, but Isaacs was actually seeking nearly $130,000/month so he is unlikely to be satisfied with the ordered amount.
Despite the fact that he will likely be unsatisfied with the ordered amount, a court will not order a party to pay alimony that he/she cannot afford. Looking at the “needs vs. ability to pay” analysis in this case, Blige and Issacs owe a large sum in back taxes and this greatly effects Blige’s ability to pay alimony as she must dedicate substantial funds to this debt. It is hard to imagine that Isaacs needs more than $30,000/month on which to live but, even if he can prove that he does, if Blige does not have the ability to pay it, the higher amount cannot and will not be awarded.