Know the Laws that Govern a Georgia Divorce

Georgia Divorce LawsGeorgia divorce laws address residency requirements, grounds for divorce, custody and visitation, property division, alimony and child support, and much more.

Georgia Divorce Laws: Residency Requirements 

To file for divorce, at least one spouse must be a Georgia resident for a minimum of six months. For a military divorce, anyone who has been a resident of any U.S. army post or military reservation within the state for a year may file for divorce in any county adjacent to the military post or reservation.

The petitioner files with the Superior Court in their county of legal residence, where a judge or jury will adjudicate all pleadings, hearings, and actions, after which the judge will issue a final decree.

Georgia Divorce Laws: Legal Grounds for Divorce

Georgia is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that to file for divorce, one party simply must state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”; however, Georgia divorce laws do provide 12 fault-based grounds for divorce.

  • Intermarriage of closely related parties
  • Mental incapacity when the marriage occurred
  • Impotency at the time of the marriage
  • Marriage by force, menace, duress or fraud
  • Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband when the marriage occurred
  • Adultery by either spouse
  • “Willful and continued desertion” for one year
  • Conviction (and imprisonment for two years or longer) of either spouse for an offense involving moral turpitude
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Habitual drug addiction
  • Cruel treatment (willful infliction of physical or mental pain upon the complaining spouse)
  • Incurable mental illness

Petitioners sometimes use fault grounds for advantage in contested divorce matters, such as custody or alimony. For example, in Georgia, if a spouse is unfaithful, that spouse cannot collect alimony if that is determined to be the reason for the dissolution of the marriage.

Georgia Divorce Laws: Child Custody and Visitation

A judge will always determine child custody and visitation based on the best interests of the child. The court will always go into proceedings assuming that it would be within the child’s best interests to have a custodial relationship with both parents; however in situations of physical or drug abuse, the court will often decide against joint custody.

Georgia Divorce Laws: Property Division

Because Georgia is an equitable distribution state, spouses must divide all marital property fairly. That doesn’t necessarily mean equally.

The law views marital property as assets the couple acquired during the marriage, including gifts given from one spouse to the other, or the appreciation of property resulting from the efforts of the parties during the marriage.

Non-marital property (usually acquired before marriage) through inheritance or a gift from a third party is generally exempt, though, a spouse may need to provide proof to confirm such property. There may be exceptions to this rule that you should discuss with a property division attorney.

Georgia Divorce Laws: Child Support and Spousal Support

A spouse may seek temporary or permanent alimony, or spousal support but law does not require a judge to award it. As stated above, a spouse cannot receive alimony if the other spouse can prove adultery or desertion was the cause of the dissolution of the marriage. When awarding alimony, the court bases its decision on the conduct of each spouse toward the other and ends if the recipient remarries.

In regards to child support, the actions of the parent do not affect child support. Generally, a parent must pay child support until the child reaches 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs last. It may also terminate if the minor child marries, becomes emancipated, or dies.

Spouses can request a modification for both spousal and child support orders.

Note: Different rules and laws govern military alimony, so be sure you are aware of any differences that may affect your case.

What Else Can Affect My Divorce?

Annulments, paternity, prenuptial agreements, and marital separation can also affect your divorce. The divorce attorneys at the Ward Law Firm in Duluth are well versed in Georgia divorce law and can give you an honest and objective assessment of your situation. Call us at 770-383-1973 or fill out our online contact form to set up your REAL Case Analysis.