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Georgia Divorce Questions and Answers

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What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?

In Georgia, a divorce can be granted based on the fact the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no hope for reconciliation by the two parties. This no-fault ground is the most common ground for divorce in Georgia.

A fault ground for divorce does not have to be alleged.

There are 12 fault grounds for divorce in Georgia. Those fault grounds for divorce are as follows:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Conviction of either party of an offense involving moral turpitude and imprisonment for 2 or more years
  • Habitual intoxication
  • Habitual drug intoxication
  • Cruel treatment
  • Incurable mental illness
  • Pregnancy of wife by man other than the husband of wife
  • Force, duress or fraud in obtaining marriage
  • Intermarriage by persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity
  • Mental incapacity at time of marriage
  • Impotency

How long does it take to get a divorce in Georgia?

The length of time it takes to get a divorce varies. It depends on the complexity of your case, whether there are children involved, whether the case is uncontested or contested, etc.

Uncontested cases:  An uncontested divorce may be granted thirty (31) days after the defendant has been served with the complaint for divorce. Uncontested cases are cases in which both parties agree and there are no disagreements as to any issues.

Contested cases: Cases where the parties can’t come to an agreement regarding the major issues in a divorce such as child custody or the division of marital property. These cases can take much longer to resolve and may involve going to trial.

Additionally, each party’s approach toward the case (cooperative, difficult, getting back at the opposing party, etc.) always influences the time it takes a case to be resolved.

Do I have to go to court to get divorced?

In uncontested cases meaning a case that has been settled between the parties through agreement – a divorce is granted after all the necessary paperwork is filed with the court. One party may be required to go to court and testify the marriage is irretrievably broken with no hope for reconciliation.

In contested cases — a divorce would only be granted following a trial or hearing where the parties cannot settle the case between themselves. Both parties must be present for hearings and trials in contested divorce cases.

Do I need an attorney to get a divorce?

Yes, having an attorney to handle your divorce is always a good idea. Divorces can be complex, especially when issues involving child custody, child support and marital property division come up. Attorneys are trained in the law and know the proper procedures in a divorce such as what documents need to be filed, where those documents need to be filed, how to serve the other party and so forth.

Many people may feel they can’t afford to hire an attorney and try to represent themselves. However, this is usually a mistake as it may be hard to undo any mistakes that have already occurred.

Can I change my name back to my maiden name?

Yes. Your attorney will ask whether you want your maiden name restored and will include the appropriate language in the Final Divorce Decree, restoring your maiden name.

Am I legally separated once the divorce is filed?

In order to file for a divorce, you must state that you are in a state of separation. In Georgia, separation simply means the parties no longer engage in marital activities and relations. The two parties can be separated even if they reside in the same house but do not share the same room or have sexual relations.

In Georgia, legal separations are not recognized as an end to a marriage. The parties must go through the divorce process in order to end the marriage.

Can I get an annulment?

Annulments are rarely used. Generally, the only basis for an annulment is an allegation of fraud.

Where do I file for divorce in Georgia?

Generally, a divorce is filed in the county where the defendant lives. The divorce complaint and supporting documents are filed with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the defendant lives.

When can I file for divorce?

You must have lived in Georgia for at least six months prior to filing a divorce action.

How much does a divorce cost?

Costs vary depending on the complexity of the case, whether there are children involved and whether the case is uncontested versus contested. There is no way to predict the total cost of a divorce.

Can I get alimony?

You may be entitled to alimony, or spousal support depending on the circumstances of your case.

Alimony is awarded to either spouse according to:

  • Needs of the spouse requesting alimony, and
  • Ability of the other spouse to pay

Will I have to pay alimony?

The main controlling factors in determining the amount of permanent alimony or spousal support are the needs of the spouse requesting alimony and the other spouse’s ability to pay. Whether you have to pay alimony will depend on the circumstances of your case.

What if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce?

All it takes is for one party to want a divorce in Georgia. In Georgia, a divorce can be granted as long as one party testifies that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no hope for reconciliation.

Do the other issues – child support, child custody, alimony, and property – have to be decided before the divorce is final?

Yes, issues of child support, child custody, alimony or spousal support and marital property division have to be decided before the divorce is finalized. The parties can come to an agreement as to those issues or the parties can request a bench trial or jury trial and let the fact finder decide those issues.

At what point during the divorce process can a spouse remarry or start dating?

Only after the case is finalized and all the paperwork is signed by a judge. If you start dating before the divorce is finalized that may be used as a factor when determining awards of alimony, spousal support, child custody and visitation. Although the decision to date or remarry is entirely personal, you may want to rethink getting into another relationship so quickly after a divorce.

Considering Divorce? Need Divorce Help?

Contact Macon divorce attorney Ashley M. Brodie at (478) 239-2780 if you are currently considering divorce or need divorce help. She handles all aspects of divorce throughout the metro Macon, GA area, including Gray, Milledgeville, Eatonton and Warner Robins.

Still have questions, but not ready for a consultation? Visit the Georgia Divorce Guide and our divorce practice page for more information about the divorce process and answers to many questions regarding divorce.

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