Modification of Alimony in Georgia
In Georgia, an award of alimony can be modified under certain circumstances. Similar to child support, an award of alimony for the support of a spouse is “subject to revision upon petition filed by either former spouse showing a change in the income or financial status of either former spouse.” OCGA §19-6-19(a). For example, an alimony payor may seek a decrease in his/her obligation by showing a decrease in his income. Alternatively, an alimony payee may seek an increase in the payor’s obligation if the payor is suddenly making more money, or if the payee loses his/her job.
In addition to modification for financial change, Georgia law is clear that “the voluntary cohabitation of such former spouse with a third party in a meretricious relationship shall also be grounds to modify provisions made for periodic payments of permanent alimony for the support of the former spouse.” OCGA §19-6-19(b). “Cohabitation” is further defined as “dwelling together continuously and openly in a meretricious relationship with another person, regardless of the sex of the other person.” Id. Thus, if an alimony payee begins living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the payor can get a modification. The payor does still have to file a petition for modification and, if he/she cannot prove the cohabitation, he/she will be liable for the other party’s attorney’s fees in defending the modification action.
It should be noted that, under Georgia law, a party can only file a petition for modification of alimony “where a party has been ordered by the final judgment in an alimony or divorce and alimony action to pay permanent alimony in weekly, monthly, annual, or similar periodic payments and not where the former spouse of such party has been given an award from the corpus of the party's estate in lieu of such periodic payment.” OCGA §19-6-21.