Permanent Alimony Not Automatic for Stay-At-Home Parents

Spouses in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that stop working to stay at home and raise children have traditionally been cared for after a divorce through spousal support payments. But courts may no longer look favorably on such arrangements, however, leaving the stay-at-home spouse in a precarious financial position.

Families with two working parents often face the decision of whether one of the parents should give up their career to stay home with the kids, with the other parent being the only source of income. If the parents end up divorcing, the parent that gave up their career may not be granted spousal support that they were expecting to receive. Courts do not consider raising children to be a full-time job. Additionally, courts are reluctant to reward parents that voluntary give up their earning potential. Awards of permanent alimony are less frequent than they have been traditionally, and many states are considering reforms to do away with such orders entirely.

Spousal support, or alimony, is payment by one spouse to the other in the event of a divorce to prevent any negative financial impact to the lower-earning spouse. The factors considered in determining whether alimony should be awarded include the length and standard of living of the marriage, the assets of each spouse and each spouse's contribution to the marriage, among many others. Alimony payments can be classified as either rehabilitative or permanent. The case described above concerns the payment of permanent alimony to a spouse that gives up their career to raise the children. Permanent alimony is to be paid until a court deems otherwise, typically in the event of the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.

Permanent alimony is a means to ensure that a lower or non-earning spouse is not unduly burdened financially in the event that a couple divorces. They are provided for through the income of their former spouse until such income is no longer necessary. Those going through a divorce may want to make sure they understand the process of determining alimony payments.

Source: Forbes, "Deciding To Become A Stay-At-Home Mom? Consider This Cautionary Tale," Jeff Landers, May 29, 2014

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