No one expects to have to deal with divorce in their relationship. Dealing with the bureaucracy, while also experiencing all of the personal difficulty associated with the process, can be emotionally harrowing, particularly without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
State Requirements for Divorce or Annulment
In order to get a divorce in Georgia, at least one spouse must have lived in Georgia for six months or more or the last domicile of the marriage must have been in state, and the couple must be considered separated before they can file. Marriage can be dissolved through divorce or annulment, or altered by a decree of separate maintenance.
There are both no-fault and fault grounds: A no-fault divorce is typically sought by one or both parties based on a refusal to live with the other spouse and no hope of reconciliation. A divorce sought under fault can involve one party accusing the other of such wrongdoing as (at the time of the marriage) mental incapacity, force or fraud, impotency, or an unknown pregnancy. In addition, adultery, desertion, mental or physical abuse, conviction/imprisonment, mental illness, or drug addiction/regular intoxication are grounds for obtaining a divorce.
The following include the initial steps for filing for divorce in Georgia:
The spouse seeking the divorce files complaint, which must include sufficient detail re: assets, children, grounds for divorce, debts, etc.
- The complaint is filed in defendant’s spouse’s county/where they reside
- A copy is served on the spouse by the sheriff
While You Wait…
If both spouses are waiting for the case to reach the court, and they are concerned about child custody and/or alimony, either one may request a temporary hearing
There are several alternatives available to couples who are not seeking to go through a traditional divorce in the courts, which may include
- Separate maintenance action: Living apart but not divorced
- Annulment: Declares the marriage was void due to it never being valid. Can only be granted if there are no children born of the marriage.
- Settlement agreements: Decisions related to the dissolution of the marriage are agreed to in a contract and presented to the court. The court can then issue a final judgment and decree ending the lawsuit, however, the court reserves the right to decide on issues related to child custody and visitation. Children over the age of fourteen may choose which parent they prefer to have custody, and the court will abide by this choice unless it is not in the best interests of the child. The parent who does not have custody rights will typically be granted visitation by the court in the interest of the child maintaining relationships with both parents. For more on child custody, see the following.
Marital Property Division
Marital property is defined as all property acquired during marriage (unless received by gift or inheritance). It is typically divided equitably by a judge or the jury in a divorce case.
Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Georgia
If you are considering getting a divorce or separation, it is important to first obtain an experienced family law attorney to advise you. The attorneys at Edwards & Associates can assist with all aspects of separation and divorce, alimony, child custody and visitation, mediation, and other related issues. Contact our office for more information.