Georgia Divorce Law
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By DivorcedMoms, Senior Editor - September 24, 2013 - Updated October 05, 2013

Georgia.jpgResidency Requirements

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 spouse resides.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

No Fault Divorce:

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-3].

General Divorce or Fault Based Divorce:

    • Impotence
    • Adultery
    • Conviction of and imprisonment of over 2 years for an offense involving moral turpitude.
    • Alcoholism and/or drug addiction.
    • Confinement for incurable insanity.
    • Separation caused by mental illness.
    • Willful desertion.
    • Cruel and inhuman treatment which endangers the life of the spouse.
    • Habitual intemperance (drunkenness).
    • Consent to marriage was obtained by fraud, duress, or force.
    • Spouse lacked mental capacity to consent (including temporary incapacity resulting from drug or alcohol use).
    • The wife was pregnant by another at the time of the marriage unknown to the husband.
    • Incest

Alimony/Spousal Support in Georgia:

Alimony in Georgia is authorized in limited situations and is not the broad remedy that it is in other states. Alimony in Georgia is either "rehabilitative" or "permanent". Alimony is money for support paid to a spouse by the other spouse. Alimony can be for a short or long period of time. Usually alimony is granted by the court only when a long term marriage ends. The other party must be able to pay alimony of the court is to award alimony to the other party.  Alimony may also be grant short-term before a final divorce decree is awarded. The following factors are to be considered:        

  • 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.        
  • The duration of the marriage.        
  • The financial resources of each spouse.        
  • The age and physical and emotional condition of both spouses.        
  • The value of each spouse’s separate property.        
  • The earning capacity of each spouse.        
  • Any fixed liabilities of either spouse.        
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.       
  • The time necessary for a spouse to acquire sufficient education to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment.

Child Custody in Georgia:

In Georgia both parents are equal when it comes to child custody arrangements. The court may award joint custody or sole custody. Georgia awards two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody is the right to make major decisions regarding the child. With joint legal custody, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child. One parent has final decision-making rights about medical, educational, extracurricular, and religious decisions.

Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. With joint physical custody, both parents share substantially equal time and contact with the child. In awarding joint custody, the court may order joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.

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

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

There is a presumption against awarding joint custody in Georgia when there is a history of domestic abuse.

Child Support in Georgia:

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:

  • The age of the children.
  • A child’s medical costs or extraordinary needs.
  • Educational costs
  • Daycare costs.
  • Shared physical custody arrangements.
  • A parent’s support obligations to another household.
  • Hidden income of a parent.
  • The income of the parent with custody.
  • Contributions of the parents.
  • Extreme economic circumstances.
  • A parent’s own extraordinary needs.
  • Historic spending levels of the family.
  • The cost of health and accident insurance coverage for the child.
  • Any extraordinary visitation travel expenses.

Property Distribution

Georgia is an “equitable distribution” state. Although each spouse would take out of the marriage his or her own separate property, all of the remaining property or "marital property" would be divided under a fair and equitable approach. The factors considered by the court in deciding how to equitably divide the property would include:        

  • Standard of living during marriage.        
  • Earning capacities of both parties.        
  • The education and vocational skills of both parties.       
  • Current income of both parties.        
  • Age and heath of the parties.        
  • Assets, debts, and liabilities of the parties.        
  • Needs of each of the parties.        
  • Provisions for the custody of the minor children.        
  • Each party's contribution to the acquisition of existing marital assets.        
  • Each party's enhancement of the value of existing marital assets.        
  • Whether either party has dissipated or diminished the value of the martial assets by wrongful conduct.

Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.

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