Many States Seeking to Prohibit Permanent Alimony

When a Georgia couple divorces, there often exists a dramatic gap in the earning power of one spouse relative to the other. Since they are no longer sharing assets, this can put one of the spouses at a distinct disadvantage from an economic standpoint. A mechanism that a court can apply to minimize this disadvantage is alimony, but some states are seeking to modify such awards.

Numerous states are proposing legislation that may end the granting of permanent alimony. The states are considering devising formulas to determine the length and amount to be awarded rather than ordering it be paid for life. Those in favor of these proposals feel that the formulas will provide consistency to the awarding of alimony and remove the unfairness that accompanies many permanent awards. Those against them feel that such changes will have a negative impact on women that have given up their careers to take care of their family, as they will now have limited means of support.

Alimony is the payment from one spouse to the other pursuant to a divorce for the purpose of minimizing any unfair economic effects that may result to a limited income or non-earning spouse. The duration of such payments differs depending on if the alimony is considered rehabilitative or permanent. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for as long as it takes for the lower earning spouse to receive any necessary education or training and increase their earning power to become self-supporting. Permanent alimony, however, must be paid until the receiving spouse marries again, or the court orders that it no longer should be paid.

As mentioned above, many states are considering legislation that seeks to do away with permanent alimony. Such legislation is focused on providing standards and consistency in the amount and duration of awards from case to case. Additionally, many feel that it is inherently unfair to make a higher earning spouse pay their ex-spouse for the rest of their life, and sometimes even after that from their estate. The opposing view is that all divorces are different and a permanent alimony mechanism is necessary in some cases. Additionally, there is a feeling that this legislation will be unduly unfair to women that give up their careers to stay at home to raise children.

Source: Main Street, "Is This the End of Alimony?," July 1, 2013

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