Real Housewife of Atlanta Seeks Alimony

Leslie_ONeal_9797_8x12 By Leslie O’Neal

On March 22, 2013, Former NFL player Kordell Stewart filed for divorce from his wife of nearly two years, Real Housewives of Atlanta‘s cast member Porsha Williams Stewart.  In her response to Stewart’s divorce filing, Porsha Stewart argued that she should be awarded alimony from Kordell Stewart.  Kordell Stewart has a different opinion, arguing that his wife does not need any support from him because he claims she is an able-bodied person, earning income and is capable of supporting herself.

The couple was married only 2 years.  During that two-year timeframe, Ms. Stewart was a cast member of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, presumably receiving income for her participation on the show.  Due to the relatively short length of the marriage and the income Ms. Stewart presumably receives, is alimony appropriate under Georgia law?

“Alimony” is derived from a Latin term meaning “to nourish,” or to supply the necessities of life.  Loyd v. Loyd, 183 Ga. 751, 752 (1937).  Alimony is authorized to be awarded to either party, with the two controlling factors being the needs of one spouse and the other spouse’s ability to pay.  A judge is never required to award alimony and in some cases is actually prohibited from awarding alimony, such as when one spouse’s adultery was the cause of the separation.

Once a Judge determines that there is a “need” and “ability to pay” sufficient to make an alimony award, the next questions are how much, and for how long.  There are no specific requirements or parameters regarding the duration or the amount of alimony and Judges are granted very wide latitude in making these determinations.  Some factors that the Court is encouraged to consider are the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and condition of the parties, the financial resources of each party, and the time necessary for one party to gain employment.

In the Stewart divorce, Porsha Stewart’s quest for alimony will largely depend on what her needs are and what her income is.   Her needs can include mortgage(s), utilities, car payment(s), medical expenses, and other monthly expenses that are considered by the Court to be reasonable and consistent with the lifestyle of the marriage.  Her income from the Real Housewives of Atlanta will also play a role in an alimony determination because if she is able to meet all of her reasonable monthly expenses with her income alone, she will have a more difficult time obtaining an alimony award.   If the Court determines that an award of alimony is appropriate, it will not likely be an extended duration due to the short length of the marriage and her own financial resources.