What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?
Divorce affects, directly or indirectly, virtually every family in the country. This video is designed to briefly summarize Georgia’s divorce laws as to the grounds or reasons a Georgia divorce court must hear to dissolve a marriage.
Marriage is a civil contract that the state has an interest in preserving. Accordingly, the marriage relationship may be dissolved only as provided by law through (1) a divorce or (2) an annulment; or altered by (3) a decree of separate maintenance granted by our courts. In any case, there must be a proceeding in the superior court of the county in which the defendant resides (or the county where the parties resided during the marriage if the defendant left the county within six months before filing) and the person seeking the divorce must prove grounds for divorce (valid reasons prescribed by law).
What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?
In Georgia there are 13 grounds for divorce. One ground is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” (sometimes referred to as the no-fault ground). The other 12 grounds for divorce in Georgia are fault grounds.
What is a no-fault divorce?
To obtain a divorce on this basis (irretrievably broken), one party must establish that he or she refuses to live with the other spouse and that there is no hope of reconciliation. It is not necessary for both parties to agree the marriage is irretrievably broken. Also, it is not necessary to show that there was any fault or wrongdoing by either party.
What are the fault grounds?
To obtain a divorce on one of the 12 fault grounds, one must prove that there was some wrongdoing by one of the parties to the marriage.
As an example, one fault ground is adultery. Adultery in Georgia includes heterosexual and homosexual relations between one spouse and another individual.
Another fault ground for divorce in Georgia is desertion. A divorce may be granted on the grounds that a person has deserted his or her spouse willfully for at least one year. Other fault grounds include mental or physical abuse, marriage between persons who are too closely related, mental incapacity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, force or fraud in obtaining the marriage, pregnancy of the wife unknown to the husband at the time of the marriage, conviction and imprisonment for certain crimes, habitual intoxication or drug addiction and mental illness.
SOURCE: State Bar of Georgia
The new Georgia child support guidelines become effective January 1, 2007, and apply to all pending civil actions on or after January 1, 2007. Under the new guidelines, there are several steps that are used to arrive at a child support obligation. First, the gross income of both the mother and the father is determined. This income includes amounts from all non-exempt sources and includes: salary, wages, commissions, self-employed income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income annuity income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, alimony from persons not in the subject case, assets which are used for support of family, fringe benefits that significantly reduce living expenses, and any other income including imputed income. Variable income such as commissions or bonuses must be averaged over a reasonable period of time.
After the gross income of both the mother and father is determined, the income may be adjusted in three ways. If there is self-employed income, there is a reduction for one-half of the self-employment taxes being paid. Secondly, if either parent is paying child support under a preexisting child support order, the monthly gross income of such parent is reduced by the amount of monthly support such parent has been actually paying. Finally, if either parent is supporting his or her own children living in the home, but who are not the subject of this child support determination, the court in its discretion may reduce the gross income after calculating a theoretical child support order. This final adjustment will be difficult to obtain since the court must find the failure to do so would cause a financial hardship on the parent and that such adjustment is in the best interest of the child in the case at hand.
Spousal support is the right of one spouse to receive an award of money from the other spouse, on a temporary or permanent basis, whenever a court determines that the facts of that particular situation warrant it. In Georgia, the statutes and the courts refer to such spousal support as alimony. No one is entitled to alimony by virtue of marriage alone. The court may grant alimony to either spouse from the income or estate of the other, either as periodic payments or lump sum awards. It may end at the death or remarriage of the recipient, or it may end sooner by the specific terms of the Final Decree or Judgment. Alimony may also be awarded on a temporary basis during the pendency of the divorce action.
There are no guidelines for determining alimony, but it is based upon the determination of the trier of fact of the needs of one party and the ability to pay of the other party. Some of the factors that the court may consider in determining first if alimony is appropriate, and then in what amount, are as follows: