Divorce Versus Separate Maintenance In Georgia

In the State of Georgia, troubled marriages that cannot be mended have three potential options: annulment, divorce, and legal separation. While an annulment is not a viable option for most circumstances, divorce and separation often are.

Understanding Divorce in Georgia

The more common of the two options, divorce (O.C.G.A. § 19-5-1) is the legal dissolution of a marriage. When looking to end a marriage through divorce, there are four major aspects that the legal system takes into consideration: alimony, child custody, child support, and equitable division of marital property. These aspects of the divorce order may be agreed upon by both parties or the details of the divorce may be decided by a judge or jury, if both parties cannot agree.

The State of Georgia does allow no-fault divorces, meaning both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Additionally, Georgia law offers 12 other grounds for divorce. Regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, there are many technicalities that play into the divorce proceedings. For example, to be eligible to file for a divorce in Georgia, at leastone of the parties must have lived in the state for at least six months, although there are some exceptions to that rule for military personnel.

Following a divorce, the marriage is ended, and either party is able to remarry. However, both parties must maintain the divorce agreement.

Understanding Separation and Separate Maintenance in Georgia

Some couples decide to part ways, but are not open to or ready to explore the idea of a divorce. There are many reasons this may be the case, but it is often a result of religious beliefs or the desire to maintain access to one spouse’s benefits, such as healthcare. Unlike other states, legal separation is not required prior to filing a divorce action.

In this case, a legal separation is the most viable option. In the State of Georgia, a legal separation is marked by a separate maintenance order (O.C.G.A. § 19-6-10). Similar to a divorce agreement, separate maintenance deals with spousal support, child custody, child support, and equitable division of marital property. The major difference is that a separate maintenance order does not end the marriage. Neither party can remarry, even though they are living independently of one another. The couple can reconcile at any time.

Get the Professional Guidance You Need

If your marriage is breaking down, it’s important to fully understand your options, so you and your spouse can make the decisions that are best for your unique circumstances.

At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.