CHAPTER 6 ALIMONY AND CHILD SUPPORT GENERALLY
19-6-1. Alimony defined; when authorized; how determined; lien on estate of party dying prior to order; certain changes in parties’ assets prohibited pending determination.
(a) Alimony is an allowance out of one party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately. It is either temporary or permanent.
(b) A party shall not be entitled to alimony if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the separation between the parties was caused by that party’s adultery or desertion. In all cases in which alimony is sought, the court shall receive evidence of the factual cause of the separation even though one or both of the parties may also seek a divorce, regardless of the grounds upon which a divorce is sought or granted by the court.
(c) In all other cases in which alimony is sought, alimony is authorized, but is not required, to be awarded to either party in accordance with the needs of the party and the ability of the other party to pay. In determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court shall consider evidence of the conduct of each party toward the other.
(d) Should either party die prior to the court’s order on the issue of alimony, any rights of the other party to alimony shall survive and be a lien upon the estate of the deceased party.
(e) Pending final determination by the court of the right of either party to alimony, neither party shall make any substantial change in the assets of the party’s estate except in the course of ordinary business affairs and except for bona fide transfers for value.
Married couples are allowed up to $500,000 ($250,000 each) in profits, tax free from the sale of their principal residence, as long as they have owned and occupied the residence as a principal residence for at least two of the five years before the sale. Formerly, a spouse who moved out as a result of divorce lost his or her $250,000 deduction because it was no longer the principal residence. However, thanks to a change in the tax law, an ex-spouse can now retain that exclusion.
The law contains a specific provision relating to property used by the spouse of a former spouse pursuant to a divorce decree (26 U.S.C. § 121 (d)(3B)). This section states that “an individual shall be treated as using property as such individual’s principal residence during any period of ownership while such individual’s spouse or former spouse is granted use of the property under a divorce or separation instrument.”
This addresses the case of where an individual has retained ownership in the house but where the former spouse occupies the house for a period of more than 3 years from the time the owner (the non-occupying individual) has vacated the home. This allows the non-occupying individual to exclude up to $250,000 of gain when the house is sold, even though he or she did not actually occupy the home for two of the last five years before the sale.
To qualify, the spouse who moved out must remain an owner and the divorce or separation agreement must grant that spouse the use of the home. If a spouse who is the sole owner remarries, the new spouse must live in the house for two years to qualify for the full $500,000 exclusion.
The new Georgia child support guidelines become effective January 1, 2007, and apply to all pending civil actions on or after January 1, 2007. Under the new guidelines, there are several steps that are used to arrive at a child support obligation. First, the gross income of both the mother and the father is determined. This income includes amounts from all non-exempt sources and includes: salary, wages, commissions, self-employed income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income annuity income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, alimony from persons not in the subject case, assets which are used for support of family, fringe benefits that significantly reduce living expenses, and any other income including imputed income. Variable income such as commissions or bonuses must be averaged over a reasonable period of time.
After the gross income of both the mother and father is determined, the income may be adjusted in three ways. If there is self-employed income, there is a reduction for one-half of the self-employment taxes being paid. Secondly, if either parent is paying child support under a preexisting child support order, the monthly gross income of such parent is reduced by the amount of monthly support such parent has been actually paying. Finally, if either parent is supporting his or her own children living in the home, but who are not the subject of this child support determination, the court in its discretion may reduce the gross income after calculating a theoretical child support order. This final adjustment will be difficult to obtain since the court must find the failure to do so would cause a financial hardship on the parent and that such adjustment is in the best interest of the child in the case at hand.
Birthdays and holidays can be especially problematic for newly divorced parents who share custody of their children. Naturally, it will take some time for your family to adjust to the new parenting arrangement. Avoiding confusion, ambiguity and the resulting conflict is essential to maintaining healthy relationship with your children. Emily Doskow at Nolo has written an excellent article outlining 10 tips for recently divorced parents seeking to enjoy holidays without conflict and disappointment.
1. Be Flexible
Where your children are concerned, the best present you can give your child is to head off conflict about special days like birthdays and holidays. The collaborative rule for you in this situation is adjust your agreements to fit your kid’s needs.
For example, if the kids express a strong desire to spend a holidays or birthday with your ex, understand the importance of allowing them to do just that, regardless of whose time it is “officially.”
2. Be Proactive and Plan Ahead
Always keep in mind that your new family arrangements require much more planning than when everyone was living under the same roof. One way to avoid disappointment is to communicate early and often with the children and your ex. Give your children’s mom plenty of time to think about your proposals and to respond. And keep in mind that pushiness usually produces more resistance than cooperation.
3. Be Kind and Generous
Especially during holidays, keep any bitterness you still feel over the divorce between you and your ex. If you can’t say anything nice, just smile. Avoid putting the children in the awkward position of taking sides. Be as generous as you can with your kids about their relationships with their ex and the rest of the family. Encourage them to talk about the gifts they received and activities they engaged in with other family members they see over the holidays. Let them know they can show happiness with both parents. Help your children shop for the other parent, as well as their sibling, grandparent, or stepparent.
The following article is by the Separated Parenting Access and Resource Center (SPARC) and appears on DivorceNet.com:
When my stepson’s biological dad learned that I was to be the new stepfather, he told his son how lucky he was that he was getting two daddies when most people only get one! When the child came home from that visit and asked me if I was going to be his new daddy, right in front of his biological father, we started to correct him, not wanting to upset his dad. But the father told us what he had said to the boy about having two dads. That took us by surprise, but it did a lot to help us get off to a good start in a working relationship with the father. As a noncustodial parent, now, I greatly respect and appreciate the example set for me by this man. We both continue to have a positive relationship with the son we both love, even though I am no longer officially a relative. I strongly urge stepparents not to try to make themselves into "Dad" or "Mom" without the cooperation of the biological parent, it just gives the biological parent one more thing to get upset about (and rightfully so).