IMPORTANT TAX NEWS
New Tax Act:
Beginning January 1, 2019, Alimony from New Divorce Decrees will no longer be tax-free to the spouse who receives the support payments.
And the paying spouse will no longer receive a tax deduction for their payments.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is money paid out of one spouse’s property, made for the support of the other spouse when living separately. It is either temporary or permanent.
Permanent alimony does not mean alimony forever and is usually for a limited time.
Temporary alimony is support that may be awarded to a spouse during their divorce case
When Alimony Is Awarded?
The typical controlling factors in granting permanent alimony are:
- the needs one spouse; and
- the other spouse’s ability to pay.
If Alimony is awarded in a divorce where there is usually a significant disparity between one spouse’s income (and/or assets) or in their ability to support themselves.
When alimony is awarded, it’s usually done to allow the lower income spouse to continue meeting their basic (or sometimes customary) monthly needs for a period of time – giving them time to get back on their feet. Often this means giving a spouse some time to re-tool/retrain before re-entering the workforce.
Remember, alimony can be awarded to either spouse.
But in Georgia court’s, it’s usually only awarded in cases where the parties have been married for a significant period of time, and even then with the idea of being short-term and rehabilitative.
How to Determine the Alimony Amount?
In Georgia, the judge or jury may award permanent alimony to either spouse, either from the marital property or from the paying spouse’s separate property. This is separate from Property Division (Property Learn About Property Division: where all property is identified, classified, valued and the couple’s marital property is equitably divided.).
The following factors shall be considered in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded:
The standard of living established during the marriage
In Georgia, unlike some states, there is no formula or equation to determine the amount of alimony to be awarded to a spouse. The court or jury, considering all of the factors above, and then may determine an amount of alimony, if any, in each divorce case.
Remember, your case is different from every other case, so it’s very difficult to know how much, if any, alimony will be awarded in your divorce.
Adultery Stops Alimony
Here, the courts are clear that an otherwise deserving spouse shall not be entitled to alimony if the other spouse proves that the separation between the parties was caused by that spouse’s adultery or desertion. The mere fact that there was adultery is not enough to bar Alimony. The adultery must cause the separation.
John has been having an affair for two years with his secretary Betty. John’s wife Sally has had her suspicions but not enough proof/nerve/desire/whatever to confront John or end the marriage.
But Sally’s upset – and has her own affair.
When John finds out, he files for divorce claiming the cause of the separation/divorce was Sally’s affair and Alimony is barred.
Did Sally commit adultery – yes. Was her affair the underlying cause of the separation – I would argue no (if I was Sally’s lawyer).
If adultery is not the cause, alimony may be authorized – but is not required. Alimony is only to be awarded to either spouse in accordance with the needs of that spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.
In determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court shall consider evidence of the conduct of each spouse toward the other. So be carefully aware of your actions prior to divorce if you intend to seek alimony.