In our previous post, we began discussing a current case being considered by the Tennessee Supreme Court concerning lifetime alimony, and specifically when such alimony should be awarded.

Attorney for the ex-husband in the case remarked that the two main factors the Supreme Court will consider are the wife's need to maintain the same lifestyle as when she was married, and the husband's ability to pay. Oral arguments for the case will be heard in Nashville in late spring.

The case is, according to one Nashville attorney, a possible statewide "game changer" in regard to alimony awards. If the alimony award stands, some feel it could discourage spouses from remaining in long-term marriages since the payments last for life, unlike child support.

While the Tennessee case is merely a point of interest for Georgia residents, the issues affecting the case are similar to those in many alimony cases.

In Georgia, alimony may be either rehabilitative or permanent. While rehabilitative alimony has the goal of providing short-term relief to a spouse, permanent alimony continues for a long period of time, potentially until the death of the recipient party. In Georgia courts will award permanent alimony usually only to parties unable to work because of age, or physical or mental illness. Rehabilitative alimony, though, is awarded for only short periods, in order to get a spouse back on their feet, or to enable them to get training and education to become reintegrated back into the work force.

Courts in Georgia consider various factors when determining an alimony award. Among them are: the living standard established during marriage; the duration of the marriage; the age and physical/emotion condition of each party; the finances of each party; the time necessary for either party to obtain necessary education or training enabling him/her to find work; contribution of each party to the marriage; and the financial condition of each party. Courts are empowered to consider any factors felt to be necessary for a fair decision concerning alimony awards.

Source: The Tennessean, "TN case could be 'game changer' on lifetime alimony," Sheila Burke, 10 Mar 2011.