Georgia Divorce Laws

Dreamstime_3422210 Residency Requirements for Divorce in Georgia
The spouse filing must have been a resident of Georgia for 6 months and file for divorce in the county of residence. However, a non-resident may file for divorce against a spouse who has been a resident of Georgia for 6 months. In such cases, the divorce must be filed for in the county in which the respondent resides.
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-5].

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Georgia

1. No Fault Divorce: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-3].
2. General Divorce:
1. Impotence
2. Adultery
3. Conviction of and imprisonment of over 2 years for an offense involving moral turpitude
4. Alcoholism and/or drug addiction
5. Confinement for incurable insanity
6. Separation caused by mental illness
7. Willful desertion
8. Cruel and inhuman treatment which endangers the life of the spouse
9. Habitual intemperance (drunkenness)
10. Consent to marriage was obtained by fraud, duress, or force
11. Spouse lacked mental capacity to consent (including temporary incapacity resulting from drug or alcohol use)
12. The wife was pregnant by another at the time of the marriage unknown to the husband
13. Incest
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-3].

Legal Separation in Georgia
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 and Spousal Support.
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-6-10].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Georgia

There are no legal provisions in Georgia for simplified divorce.

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
There are no legal provisions in Georgia for divorce mediation.

Divorce Property Distribution

Georgia is an "equitable distribution" state. The courts will distribute the marital property including any gifts and inheritances, equitably. There are no factors to be considered specified in the statute.
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-13 and Georgia Case Law].

Alimony and Spousal Support
Permanent or temporary alimony may be awarded to either spouse, unless the separation was caused by that spouse’s desertion or adultery. The following factors are to be considered:

1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker, in childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse
2. The duration of the marriage
3. The financial resources of each spouse
4. The age and physical and emotional condition of both spouses;
5. The value of each spouse’s separate property
6. The earning capacity of each spouse
7. Any fixed liabilities of either spouse
8. The standard of living established during the marriage
9. The time necessary for a spouse to acquire sufficient education to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment.

[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-5+].

Spouse’s Name After Divorce
If requested, a spouse’s name may be restored.
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-12 and 19-5-16].

Child Custody After Divorce

Joint or sole custody is granted, based upon the best interests of the child and a consideration of the following factors:

1. The suitability of each parent as custodian
2. The psychological, emotional, and developmental needs of the child
3. The ability of the parents to communicate with each other
4. The prior and continuing care that the parents have given the child
5. Parental support for the other parent’s relationship with the child
6. The wishes of the child (considering the child’s age and maturity)
7. The safety of the child
8. The geographic proximity of the parents
9. Any custodial agreements of the parents
10. Any history of domestic abuse

There is a presumption against awarding joint custody in Georgia when there is a history of domestic abuse.
[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-9-1 to 19-9-51].

Child Support After Divorce

Both parents are liable for the support of minor children. The court may award child support from either parent, based on their customary needs and the parents’ ability to pay. There are no specific factors for consideration set out in the statute. However, there are official child support guidelines set out in the statute that are to be followed in all cases in which the parents are not able to reach an agreement. In such cases there are factors which will be followed in special circumstances. The special circumstances include:

1. The age of the children
2. A child’s medical costs or extraordinary needs
3. Educational costs
4. Daycare costs
5. Shared physical custody arrangements
6. A parent’s support obligations to another household
7. Hidden income of a parent
8. The income of the parent with custody
9. Contributions of the parents
10. Extreme economic circumstances
11. A parent’s own extraordinary needs
12. Historic spending levels of the family
13. The cost of health and accident insurance coverage for the child
14. Any extraordinary visitation travel expenses

[Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-12, 19-6-14, and 19-6-15.]

SOURCE: Divorce Laws in America

Separation and Separate Maintenance

Separation, as the term implies, means the wife and husband are living apart. The wife and husband generally are not required to separate in order to obtain a divorce, although for psychological reasons, it usually works out that way. In some states, certain grounds for divorce may require that the parties live apart for a specified period of time, but in most states there are grounds for divorce that do not require a period of separation.

A legal separation also means the husband and wife are living apart, but a legal separation has the added element that the arrangement is ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties in a written agreement. The fact that the separation is part of a court order or written agreement makes it a "legal separation"

The main reason for obtaining a legal separation instead of an informal separation is to make more certain the rights and responsibilities of the parties during the period of separation. If one party–usually the wife–will be receiving financial support during the period of separation, the court order or written agreement will make support an enforceable right.

Payments of support during a period of separation sometimes are called temporary maintenance or alimony pendente lite. If the person obliged to make such payments fails to do so, a court could order the payments and take steps to enforce payments.

Written agreements regarding support are necessary if the person making the payments wishes to claim a tax deduction for paying support to the spouse. If the person paying support obtains a deduction for the amount paid, then the same amount will be treated as taxable income to the recipient. Without a written agreement or court order, the payments of support will not be deductible to the payer, nor would they be treated as income to the recipient.

If the husband and wife have children, the separation agreement or court order can specify arrangements regarding custody or visitation with the children, and those arrangements also can be enforced by the court.

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