Can You Modify Your Georgia Alimony Agreement During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic economic impact, triggering a surge in unemployment filings in Georgia and all across the nation. Many of those who file a claim for unemployment benefits are divorced individuals who are paying or receiving alimony.
Many divorced Georgians are asking the following questions during these times of uncertainty:
- Can I modify my spousal support order during the pandemic?
- Does the pandemic itself warrant the modification of alimony or child support?
- Can you stop paying alimony if your business temporarily closed due to Georgia’s stay-at-home order?
If your ability to pay regular alimony payments was affected by the pandemic, you may have a basis to modify your existing order to pay alimony or spousal support under Georgia family law.
Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Warrant Alimony Modification in Georgia?
When circumstances materially change, either party can modify the amount of alimony. Typically, alimony modifications are requested by the payor spouse when they:
- Suffer from a long-term or permanent illness or disability that prevents the paying party from working and making payments;
- Experience an involuntary job loss or wage reduction;
- Have their work hours involuntarily reduced; or
- Experience any other type of financial hardship.
Under O.C.G.A. §19-6-19, alimony can be modified in Georgia based on:
- A change in the income or financial status of the supported or payor spouse; or
- The supported spouse’s voluntary cohabitation, continuously and openly, with a third party in a romantic and/or sexual relationship.
Technically, the payor spouse may be eligible for a spousal support modification during the coronavirus pandemic if he or she was furloughed, lost their job, or experienced material financial hardship. Often, when the obligor spouse seeks to lower spousal support payments, judges are likely to be skeptical of the modification request. However, the coronavirus pandemic could be an exception. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on nearly every industry and triggered unemployment filings across the country. If the pandemic caused your business to close or substantially reduced your income, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Georgia law sets a high standard for the successful modification of alimony agreements, which is why you should seek help from our Atlanta alimony attorney to request a modification.
Also, Georgia law does not allow for the retroactive modification of spousal support, so you should consult with an attorney before you get behind on your payments.
Let our Atlanta divorce attorneys at Buckhead Family Law review your unique case and determine how you can modify your alimony during these unprecedented times. Call at 404-600-1403 to receive a consultation.