A divorce in Georgia may encompass issues such as grounds for divorce, annulment, residency requirements, and property division. If the parties are granted a divorce in Georgia the ex-spouses are no longer legally married and are able to re-marry. If you are contemplating a divorce you should contact a Georgia divorce attorney.
Legal Separation / Separate Maintenance
Georgia does not formally recognize “legal separation,” but if the two parties involved agree not to file for divorce (yet), but still want to be separated, they may file “separation agreements” in what is called a “separate maintenance action.” In Georgia, separate maintenance neither ends a marriage nor does it allow for entering into a new marriage. It does resolve many of the legal issues that would arise in a divorce (e.g. - visitation rights, arrangements for debt payments, child support, etc), without the need for the formal divorce itself. People may choose separate maintenance rather than divorce for religious reasons. In Georgia, the Complaint for Separate Maintenance must be filed with the local Superior Court where the respondent lives.
Grounds For Divorce
“Grounds for divorce” is another term for “reason for divorce,” the statement you make in your divorce papers as to the reason (grounds) you are seeking the divorce. Georgia has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. The ground (reason) for a no-fault divorce is that the marriage is irretrievably broken (no spouse is at fault). Grounds for a divorce based on fault in Georgia are:
Divorce Residency Requirements
In order to obtain a divorce one of the parties must meet Georgia residency requirements. One of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of Georgia for 6 months before the petition for divorce. A non-resident spouse can file for divorce in a county in which the other spouse has been a resident for 6 months before the filing. You will file your paperwork in the Superior Court of the country of residence in Georgia. The County Clerk's Office of the Superior Court will be managing your paperwork with the court.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
In Georgia, there are no separate divorce procedures for “special” divorces, though uncontested divorces in Georgia benefit from the obvious savings that come from resolving affairs on one’s own rather than litigating them. In an uncontested divorce, the parties may reach a written agreement on all issues resulting from the marriage, including finances, division of property and debt, custody and visitation of children, and spousal and child support. The parties then present that agreement to the court for approval. When the court approves it, the agreement is made an order of the court. An uncontested divorce may be granted 31 days after the defendant has been served with the complaint for divorce.
An annulment is when a court declares your marriage legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. In Georgia, an annulment is not allowed if there are children to the marriage. To seek an annulment from the Superior Court, you will need to file a Petition for Annulment and attend a hearing with a judge. It is important to discuss annulment matters with a Georgia divorce attorney.
Equitable Division of Marital Property
Georgia utilizes the system of “equitable distribution” in dividing marital property in a divorce. Equitable distribution is the idea that each spouse is entitled to an equal share of all marital property acquired during the marriage. Marital property is property that is acquired while the spouses are married and does not include inheritance or any property received as a gift by a third party. A judge or jury will make the final decision as to what is and what is not marital property in determining the final division. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal or 50-50 distribution, regardless of who holds title to the property. There is not a set formula or percentage amount used to divide marital property. It is important to contact a Georgia divorce attorney to discuss property division further.
Links to Divorce Statutes