What Is A No
A no-fault divorce is a divorce in which neither spouse needs to prove fault or marital misconduct on the part of their spouse.
Contrary to popular belief, Georgia is not a no-fault divorce state. If you wish to get divorced in GA, you must choose one of 13 grounds outlined in O.C.G.A. 19-5-3 . These grounds range from adultery and cruel treatment to irreconcilable differences.
Claiming that your marriage is irretrievably broken is the only no-fault ground for divorce in Georgia. When a divorcing couple seeks a no-fault divorce, they must simply state that their marriage is broken beyond repair and that there is no hope for reconciliation.
Typically, seeking a no-fault divorce is faster and less expensive than pursuing a divorce on any of the 12 fault-based grounds. However, claiming that spousal misconduct or misbehavior destroyed a marriage may impact child custody and alimony in favor of the spouse who had been wronged.
Waiting Periods For Absolute Divorce
Under each ground for an absolute divorce, there is a provision for when you can bring the lawsuit against your spouse to the court. However, if you claim that your spouse committed adultery, you can bring the action for absolute divorce at any time. As long as you can fulfill the residency requirement there is no time limit when claiming adultery. In a claim of desertion, however, you may have a time-limit problem. Whether the desertion was actual or constructive, you must wait a year after the event of desertion before you file for an absolute divorce. For a voluntary separation, you must have been voluntarily separated for at least 12 months without cohabitation before you can file for absolute divorce.
If your spouse has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor with a sentence of at least three years or an unspecified sentence in a penal institution, and has served 12 months of that sentence, you can then file for absolute divorce. In a two year separation, before filing for absolute divorce, you and your spouse must have lived separate and apart, without cohabitation for two years without interruption. Finally, if your spouse has been confined to a mental institute, hospital or other similar institution for at least three years, you can then file for an absolute divorce, provided you have met the residency required for this particular ground.
How To Establish Residency
Register to vote. Get a driver’s license. Get a job. Open charge accounts. Register your car. Take out a library card. The list is endless. But whatever you do, do not maintain a residence in another state that could imply that you do not intend to remain in the state from which you file.
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Getting Divorced Get Help From A Georgia Family Law Attorney
If you would like to know more about the Georgia divorce laws and requirements, and whether you have met them, there are many divorce attorneys throughout Georgia who may be able to help. In addition to letting you know if you qualify for a divorce, attorneys may also help you with planning for other divorce issues like child custody and property division.
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What Are The 13 Grounds For Divorce In Georgia
- The marriage is irretrievably broken
- Intermarriage by people within the prohibited degrees of kinship
- Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
- Impotency at the time of the marriage
- Force, menace, duress or fraud in obtaining the marriage
- Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband at the time of the marriage
- Adultery during the marriage
- The conviction of a crime of moral turpitude that results in a prison sentence of two years or longer
- Habitual intoxication
- Incurable mental illness
- Habitual drug addiction
To obtain a divorce on any of the grounds other than the marriage is irretrievably broken, you must prove the conduct or fault.
At The Siemon Law Firm, our family lawyers are here to advise you concerning grounds for divorce in Georgia. If you have questions about grounds for divorce in Georgia, count on The Siemon Law Firm. Call today and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate family lawyers. Were conveniently located, and represent clients throughout Atlanta and Northern Georgia.
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What Is Cruel Treatment As Grounds For Divorce In Georgia
Cruel treatment is defined by the statute as willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health. Thus, cruel treatment is any act done to torment, vex, or afflict or any act of inhumanity, wrong, oppression, or injustice.
Georgia divorce law requires that an intention to wound is a necessary element of cruel treatment as grounds for divorce. And a divorce on the grounds of cruel treatment presupposes a bona fide separation, and no fixed period of separation is required by law.
One example of the circumstances where it was found that there was cruel treatment is as follows: For several years, husband cursed and yelled at wife, without reason. He kept her nervous and upset. He made her cry. He threatened to leave her and frequently went for long periods of time without speaking to her at all. Wife testified she feared husbands acts were adversely affecting her health. Morehead v. Morehead, 227 Ga. 428 .
Serving The Divorce Papers
The last step after filling your paperwork is to have your soon-to-be ex served. The divorce documents must be hand delivered to your spouse. You can use a professional process server to complete this step.
Your spouse will have 30 days to respond. If they fail to respond within 30 days, the proceedings can continue without their participation. If they do accept the service, they can sign an Acknowledgement of Service and file it with the court. This is common in an uncontested divorce and following the above-mentioned process will make it smoother.
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Thirteen Legal Reasons Couples Divorce In Georgi
In Georgia, there are thirteen statutes that provide legal grounds for a married couple to divorce. These include:
Divorce Laws In Georgia
A marriage can end through an annulment or a divorce in Georgia. Separate maintenance, which is similar to legal separation, is also allowed and permits couples to decide many of the issues related to a divorce without actually going through the actual divorce itself.
There are 13 grounds for divorce in Georgia. To go through a no-fault divorce, which most people do, all that must be stated is that there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage that has caused an irretrievable breakdown. There are also 12 fault-based reasons that can be cited as well, including adultery, substance abuse, and others.
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, and courts will attempt to distribute assets in a divorce in a fair and equitable way, but not necessarily with a 50-50 split. There are several factors governing the division of assets that can impact the final outcome in many possible ways.
Here are some additional important legal questions and major issues that are common to most Georgia divorces.
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Can Emotional Abuse Be Considered Cruel Treatment
Georgia law defines cruel treatment, which is one of the 12 fault-based grounds for divorce, as the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental upon one spouse, or abusive treatment or inhuman or outrageous treatment of the spouse. While emotional abuse is not directly listed as a reason for divorce it can be argued that it falls into the category of cruel treatment.
Effect Of Fault In A Divorce
The grounds listed above are not the only grounds for divorce allowable under Georgia Law. There are advantages to using a fault based divorce versus simply citing irretrievably broken. Filing on fault based grounds can have an effect on alimony as well as equitable division of assets. If you can prove the grounds cited, then the judge can consider the bad act of the other spouse in deciding how to fairly divide any marital assets or debts that are at issue in the divorce.
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Irreconcilable Differences As Grounds For Divorce
Also known as a no-fault divorce, this means that you have essentially grown apart or there is some personality conflict that cannot be resolved and simply do not feel it is best to be married anymore. By claiming that your marriage is irretrievably broken, you are stating that there is no hope for your marriage and that you wish to terminate the legal relationship that you have with your husband or wife. The Court will specifically require that you state there is no hope for reconciliation. It is not uncommon that, even in an uncontested case where the formality of asking whether the marriage is irretrievably broken in front of the judge, that the judge refuses to sign off on the final order granting the divorce. Also, if the parties continue to have sexual relations, most judges will interpret this to mean that the marriage is not in fact irretrievably broken and may dismiss the case.
Irretrievably broken, or no-fault divorce, is the most used legal ground for divorce used when filing for a divorce. However, this doesnt mean one of the other many reasons might not also apply. Typically, when other grounds such as adultery or cruel treatment are cited in the initial pleadings, it makes for a more litigious beginning and is not conducive to putting out the emotional fires that are already burning. There can be strategic reasons for using the least derogatory or accusatory grounds that are provided by Georgia Law.
Divorce: Fault And No
Divorce is the ending of a marriage ordered by a court. InGeorgia, however, you could ask for two types of divorce: a final divorce and alegal separation. When the court decrees a final divorce, it means that the divorce is permanent, permits remarriage, and terminates property claims. When the court decrees aseparation, it means that the divorce is not permanent, does not permit remarriage, and does not terminate property claims it serves only to legalize the separation and provide for support. You are not required to get aseparation before you can get an absolute divorce – there is a commonmisconception that you need a legal separation in order to get a divorce. Thisis not the case.
In Georgia you can get a divorce if there is no hope that youand the Defendant can save the marriage. This is known as “no-fault” divorce.Most divorces are granted on the single ground that the marriage is”irretrievably broken.” It is not necessary to show any wrongdoing or fault
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Cruel Treatment As Grounds For Divorce
Is the infliction of bodily or mental pain upon the husband or wife enough that it reasonably justifies an apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health? The most common use of cruel treatment as a ground for divorce will be when there is extensive domestic abuse that has occurred in a marriage. There is a litany of literature that can be used in domestic violence cases to help prove the cruel treatment. It can range from verbal to financial abuse, where one party is continuously insulting the other or is preventing the other from having access to a means of support.
The most difficult part of these cases is that it is a he said, she said situation. Judges are extremely experienced in these matters, however, and will typically see through to the real problem areas. If they have any doubts, they typically will assign a Guardian ad Litem or another investigator to the case, especially when children are involved.
How To Prove Adultery
There probably is no such thing as a pleasant adultery case because names, dates, places, paramours, and the like have to be brought out in the open. If your spouse no longer cares about what you know and is open about the affair, you’re lucky. You can then catch your spouse flagrante delicto, which means you have your spouse in the flagrant wrong and may not have to worry about hiring detectives. However, you may still need a detective to prove your case in court. There is still a need for a corroborative witness, such as a mutual friend or neighbor, who has no stake in the matter except telling the court what he witnessed.
Most adultery cases are proven by circumstantial evidence, which means that you have to establish that your spouse had the disposition and opportunity to commit adultery.
Public displays of affection, such as hand-holding, kissing, and hugging, between the guilty spouse and the paramour are generally sufficient evidence to indicate an adulterous disposition. Opportunity may be proven by showing that your spouse was seen entering the paramour’s apartment at 11 P.M. and not coming out until 8 A.M. the following morning and that they were alone. If you can only prove disposition but not opportunity, the courts may not allow your divorce because the court may reason that it is just mere speculation. The same is true if you only show that there was opportunity, but cannot prove disposition. When you think about it, this seems to make sense.
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How Long Does A Divorce Take
The timeline of your GA divorce depends on all of the factors we outlined in the previous section. The more parties can agree on, the less costly their divorce case will be, and the faster they will be able to finalize their divorce.
Typically, if you opt for an uncontested divorce and can reach an agreement on all issues the divorce may be granted 31 days after paperwork is filed. If you take your divorce case to trial, on the other hand, it could take months or even years to finalize the divorce.
Filing Uncontested Divorce Paperwork In Georgia
Generally, your forms will need to be filed with the superior court clerks office in the county where your spouse lives. If your spouse lives in another state or has moved within the past six months from the county where you lived as a couple , you can file where you live instead. Check with the clerks office for specific information about your county, as regulations vary.
Georgia courts have resources online for divorce, including some helpful checklists and videos. Note that the process differs if you have minor children.
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Divorce In Georgia: 5 Important Faqs You Should Know
If you are unhappy with your marriage and are planning to get a divorce in Georgia, it may feel as if you are staring into an abyss of uncertainty. It is true that divorce is a life-altering and confusing event in every persons life.
Since the divorce process can bring up all sorts of questions, we decided to answer frequently asked questions about getting a divorce in GA.
What Are The Residency Requirements To File For Divorce In Georgia
To file for divorce in Georgia, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Georgia for at least six months before filing.1
A member of the armed forces can file in Georgia if s/he has resided in any U.S. army post or military reservation within Georgia for one year before filing the petition.1
1 Georgia Code § 19-5-2
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Protecting You And Your Family During And After Your Divorce
In addition to filing a petition for a protective order, there are other legal strategies you can use to protect your family.
Your family law attorney can guide you through the divorce process while protecting your personal assets, custody rights, and future financial wellbeing.
Understanding the grounds for divorce allowed under Georgia law helps you choose the right legal strategies for your own circumstances.
Victims of domestic violence may be entitled to receive a larger portion of marital assets. You may be granted sole custody of your child and the alimony needed to maintain your standard of living and obtain the skills to enter the workforce.
Fault grounds have unique implications for divorce decisions. Understanding how domestic violence impacts your divorce case is the first step to securing the outcome you need.