Is Alimony Appropriate?
When is Alimony Appropriate?
Aside from child support, alimony is often one of the most hotly contested issues of divorce. In most cases however, the arguments basically boil down to how much the recipient spouse needs as support versus how much the obligated spouse is able to pay. Generally, the obligated spouse either argues that he or she doesn't have sufficient financial resources to pay alimony or that the recipient spouse does not need spousal support due to that spouse's independent resources or earning ability. Because the battle regarding alimony often revolves around the financial needs and resources of the respective parties, if you plan to seek alimony during your divorce process, it is important for you to consider the following questions.
Questions to Ask Before Seeking Alimony
Q How Much Money Do You Need To Live On Every Month?
It is essential to make a budget and be able to accurately articulate how much financial support you will need going forward in order to successfully seek an award of alimony.
Q Will you be Living With Someone or Getting Remarried Within the Next Few Years?
If so, please note that in Georgia, alimony generally terminates upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient spouse.
Q How Much Can Your Spouse Realistically Afford to Pay You?
Be realistic. If your spouse makes $5,000 per month, she cannot realistically afford to pay $4,500 per month in alimony.
Q How Secure is Your Job, and how secure is your spouse's job?
Both questions relate to your spouse's ability to pay going forward, and your potential financial need.
Q How Will Alimony Affect Your Income Taxes?
Prior to the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, alimony was treated as taxable income to the recipient and a deduction to the payor. Now, the payment and receipt of alimony cannot be included in income or deducted. However, it is still good practice to speak with a financial adviser about how alimony will affect your financial situation.
Q Will Your Alimony Award be For a Fixed Period of Time, or Will It Be Reviewable?
In Georgia, it is not uncommon for couples to enter into agreement concerning alimony where both parties agree not to seek an upward or downward modification of alimony. It is important to consider this option, and whether such an agreement is the option for your circumstances.
Q How are You Going to Secure Alimony?
What if your former spouse dies before his or her alimony obligation is exhausted? Because it is highly unlikely that your ex-spouse will set aside money in his or her estate plan to satisfy alimony willingly, be sure to include a provision in any settlement agreement requiring your ex-spouse to maintain life insurance, naming you as a beneficiary and sufficient to cover the alimony obligation, while they are obligated to pay alimony.