Georgia law does not recognize the term legal separation. A legal separation is an alternative to filing for a divorce when spouses no longer wish to live together. Most of the issues that can be settled in a divorce can also be settled in a legal separation. However, within the state of spouses who want to live separately, but remain married, must seek a Decree of Separate Maintenance. This would allow the court to decide marital issues such as finances, property division and custody of children without granting an actual divorce.
What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?
Getting a divorce in Georgia is a complicated process, even if your divorce is uncontested. To file a divorce in the state of Georgia, one spouse or party must be a resident of the state for at least 6 months prior to the filing. The petitioner must then file a Petition for Divorce form in the superior court of the county that the party has been a resident of for 6 months. After the documents and copies have been filed with the court, the documents must then be served to the spouse giving them notice of the complaint. Both spouses will then attend a court hearing, where the judge will make sure that all paperwork has been filed and will then enter a Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce.
Georgia is also a no-fault state, meaning that spouses can ask for a divorce if they just have irreconcilable differences or they just do not get along.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
Unlike most states, Georgia is not a community property state and does not recognize that all property obtained during marriage should be split down the middle. Georgia law follows equitable distribution, which recognizes that the property that is acquired during marriage belongs to one or the other spouse either through a deed or title. Georgia courts have complete discretion on how to distribute marital property when you are getting a divorce. Some of the factors that Georgia courts decide when distributing marital property during a divorce are the following:
- The future needs of each party
- The financial status of each party
- If any misconduct of wasting assets occurred during the marriage
- Behavior of each party during the divorce
- If the divorce was at fault or no fault
What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?
In a Georgia divorce, if children are involved and child custody comes into issue, the judge follows the “Childs Best Interest Standard” when making the decision. Usually the parent who uses the best judgment in caring and planning for the children wins legal custody since it would be the child best interest. If both parents share equally in caretaking, courts may grant joint legal custody and joint physical custody.
The natural parents can also decide child custody and child support through an agreement. Georgia also requires both parents to support their children after divorce. The child support payments depend on each parent’s income and how much time each parent spends with the children.
Do You Need to Pay Alimony?
In Georgia, alimony is decided on a case-by-case basis. The court may award alimony after considering:
- the standard of living recognized during the marriage,
- whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property and income to provide for his or her needs,
- whether the other party has enough property or income to pay alimony, and
- "the circumstances of the case and of the respective parties.”
Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
Dealing with divorce can be difficult and generally requires the assistance of a qualified local Georgia divorce lawyer. You may need to hire a lawyer for advice and representation during the divorce process. Your attorney will be able to help you understand how divorce laws in your area work. Also, your lawyer will have the legal expertise that provides them with clearer foresight regarding the effects of divorce in the future.