Georgia Divorce Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Georgia Divorce laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:

The spouse who will initiate the Divorce by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:

The spouse who does not initiate the Divorce with the court.

Court Name:
In the Superior Court of _____________ County, Georgia

The proper name of the court in which a Divorce is filed in the state of Georgia. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of:

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Divorce Document:
Petition for Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Georgia Divorce process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Divorce Document:
Final Judgment and Decree

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Georgia Divorce process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
County Clerk’s Office of the Superior Court

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Divorce process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

There are legal provisions in Georgia for an action for separate maintenance for spouses who are living separately, but not divorcing. The factors and conditions are the same as those listed below under Alimony/Maintenance/Spousal Support. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-6-10].

Property Distribution:
Equitable Distribution

The applicable Georgia law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Divorce.


Georgia Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors

In Georgia the support payments (if any) can certainly influence how the marital property distribution is awarded, which is why it can become a very intricate part of the final outcome of any divorce. Keeping this in mind, if you and your spouse are unable to reach and agreement on this issue, the Superior Court will order support from one spouse to the other on a case-by-case basis as follows:

Any spouse may be awarded alimony as long as he or she is not guilty of desertion or adultery. These other factors are also considered when the parties are not able to agree on an amount; 1. the participation each party had to the marital estate; 2. the duration of the marriage; 3. the future earning capacity and financial resources of each party; 4. the age and medical condition of each party; 5. the future earning capacity of each party; 6. the value of each party’s separate property; 7. the standard of living sustained during the marriage; 8. rehabilitative time one party may need to gain employment. (Georgia Code – Sections: 19-5-5)


Georgia Property Division Factors

In Georgia, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the Superior Court within the Decree of Divorce.

Georgia is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the Superior Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the Superior Court to be fair.

There are no factors listed in the statutes regarding what is considered by the court when distributing the property upon divorce.

The verdict of the jury disposing of the property in a divorce case shall be carried into effect by the court by entering such judgment or decree or taking such other steps as are usual in the exercise of the court´s equitable powers to execute effectually and fully the jury’s verdict. (Georgia Code – Sections: 19-5-13)

Since Georgia is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state.

Georgia Grounds for Divorce

The Petition for Divorce is the initial document filed with the Georgia court. It is in this document that the filing spouse will request the court to terminate the marriage under certain specified grounds.

The granting of a divorce shall be according to one of the following grounds:

No Fault Based Grounds:
(1) The marriage is irretrievably broken. Under this ground the parties will not be granted a divorce until 30 days have lapsed from the time of filing.

Fault Based Grounds:
(1) Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity; (2) Mental incapacitation; (3) Impotence at the time of getting married; (4) Force, duress and fraud (5) Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband; (6) Adultery by either spouse (7) Willful and continued desertion by either of the spouses for the term of 1 year; (8) Conviction of a felony and imprisoned for a term of 2 years or longer; (9) Habitual drunkenness; (10) Cruel treatment; (11) Incurable mental illness. (12) Habitual drug addiction. (Georgia Code – Sections: 19-5-3)

Every divorce case that is filed in the state of Georgia must declare the grounds in which the divorce is to be granted. The grounds for divorce must be substantiated with evidence or testimony otherwise the court may dismiss the case. When you are petitioning the court for a divorce, or agreeing to a divorce, make sure that you completely understand the grounds and any potential legal repercussions.

Georgia Divorce Residency Requirements

In order to file your Petition for Divorce in Georgia, you must make sure the Superior Court has jurisdiction over your case. The most common way spouses are eligible to use a specific court system is by meeting the residency requirements. Meeting the Georgia residency requirements is typically only a concern for a spouse who has recently moved or is planning to move in the near future. The filing requirements are as follows:

No court shall grant a divorce to any person who has not been a bona fide resident of this state for six months before the filing of the petition for divorce, provided that any person who has been a resident of any United States army post or military reservation within this state for one year next preceding the filing of the petition may bring an action for divorce in any county adjacent to the United States army post or military reservation; and provided, further, that a nonresident of this state may file a petition for divorce, in the county of residence of the respondent, against any person who has been a resident of this state and of the county in which the action is brought for a period of six months prior to the filing of the petition.

The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (Georgia Code – Sections: 19-5-5).