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Georgia Divorce Laws

The Georgia divorce laws are unique for the people who wish to terminate their marriage.

We are providing the following Georgia divorce laws as an easy reference guide to help you complete your paperwork for filing your uncontested divorce in Georgia.

Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Georgia, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:

No court shall grant a divorce to any person who has not been a bona fide resident of this state for six months before the filing of the petition for divorce, provided that any person who has been a resident of any United States Army post or military reservation within this state for one year next preceding the filing of the petition may bring an action for divorce in any county adjacent to the United States Army post or military reservation; and provided, further, that a nonresident of this state may file a petition for divorce, in the county of residence of the respondent, against any person who has been a resident of this state and of the county in which the action is brought for a period of six months prior to the filing of the petition.

The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (Georgia Code - Sections: 19-5-5)

No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorces in Georgia are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Georgia the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:

(1) The marriage is irretrievably broken. Under no circumstances shall the court grant a divorce on this ground until not less than 30 days from the date of service on the respondent.

Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Petition for Divorce with the county court.

Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.

Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Superior Court of _______________ County, Georgia. All divorce cases in the state of Georgia are facilitated through this court for that particular county.

Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Georgia clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Superior Court.

Property and Debt Division: Georgia is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.

There are no factors listed in the statutes regarding what is considered by the court when distributing the property upon divorce.

The verdict of the jury disposing of the property in a divorce case shall be carried into effect by the court by entering such judgment or decree or taking such other steps as are usual in the exercise of the court�s equitable powers to execute effectually and fully the jury's verdict. (Georgia Code - Sections: 19-5-13)

Changing Name: In all divorce actions, a party may pray in his pleadings for the restoration of a maiden or prior name. If a divorce is granted, the judgment or decree shall specify and restore to the party the name so prayed for in the pleadings. (Georgia Code - Sections: 19-5-12, 19-5-16)

Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.

Alimony may awarded to a spouse unless that spouse is guilty of desertion or adultery. This being said, marital conduct is considered in alimony awards in the state of Georgia. Also the following other factors are considered by the court when the parties can not agree on an alimony arrangement; participation each party had to the marital estate; the length of the marriage; the future financial resources of each party; the age and health of each party; the future earning potential of each party; the net worth of each party's separate property; the standard of living sustained during the marriage; and rehabilitative time one party may need to gain employment. (Georgia Code - Sections: 19-5-5)

Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Georgia courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.

In all cases in which a divorce is granted, the party not in default shall be entitled to the custody of the minor children of the marriage. However, in all cases in which a divorce is granted, an application for divorce is pending, or a change in custody of a minor child is sought, the court, in the exercise of a sound discretion, may look into all the circumstances of the parties, including but not limited to; the parental suitability of each parent, the needs of the child, the prior role of each parent, the wishes of the child, the location of the residences of each parent, and any agreement between the parents.

In addition to other factors that a court may consider in a proceeding in which the custody of a child or visitation by a parent is at issue and in which the court has made a finding of family violence.

In all cases in which the child has reached the age of 14 years, the child shall have the right to select the parent with whom he or she desires to live. The child�s selection shall be controlling, unless the parent so selected is determined not to be a fit and proper person to have the custody of the child.

In all cases in which the child has reached the age of at least 11 but not 14 years, the court shall consider the desires, if any, and educational needs of the child in determining which parent shall have custody. (Georgia Code - Sections: 19-9-1 and 19-9-51)

Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Georgia child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.

The state if Georgia has a formula for determining the child support obligation based a percentage of income. These guidelines are applied when the two parents can not agree on a monthly support amount, and at which time the court will also take into consideration the following factors which would allow them to better determine the appropriate amount of monthly child support to be paid: (A) Ages of the children; (B) A child�s extraordinary medical costs or needs in addition to accident and sickness insurance, provided that all such costs or needs shall be considered if no insurance is available; (C) Educational costs; (D) Day-care costs; (E) Shared physical custody arrangements, including extended visitation; (F) A party�s other support obligations to another household; (G) Income that should be imputed to a party because of suppression of income; (H) In-kind income for the self-employed, such as reimbursed meals or a company car; (I) Other support a party is providing or will be providing, such as payment of a mortgage; (J) A party�s own extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses; (K) Extreme economic circumstances (L) Considerations of the economic cost-of-living factors of the community of each party, as determined by the trier of fact; (M) In-kind contribution of either parent; (N) The income of the custodial parent; (O) The cost of accident and sickness insurance coverage for dependent children included in the order; (P) Extraordinary travel expenses to exercise visitation or shared physical custody; and (Q) Any other factor which the trier of fact deems to be required by the ends of justice. (Georgia Code - Sections: 19-5-12, 19-6-14 and 19-6-15)

Copyright Notice: These Georgia divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.

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