Divorce in Georgia, Part 2

Residency requirements differ for civilian, military personnel;

Peach State has ‘no-fault’ divorce, plus 12 grounds for fault-based actions

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Please see “Divorce in Georgia, Part 1” for important information about:

  • the benefits of counseling and
  • the need to immediately address domestic violence if that is part of your reason for separating or divorcing (includes useful links to resources that can help with domestic violence, even if the situation is urgent).

Remember, a trained, experienced attorney can help with both.

Annulment: An unlikely, but possible outcome requiring specific circumstances

Georgia law provides for annulment, legal separation and divorce. Of the three, annulment is the most difficult to get, and if children have been born during the marriage, divorce is the only way to end the marriage, according to the State Bar of Georgia. Otherwise, says the bar, “an annulment is a legal decree that the marriage is now void and was invalid from its inception due to one or both parties being unable, unwilling or fraudulently induced into contracting marriage.”

Residency requirements

Basically, state law (Georgia code 19-5-2) says “one spouse must have lived in the state of Georgia for 6 months or Georgia must have been the last domicile of the marriage,” according to the state bar. Unlike many states, Georgia raises the bar for military personnel, requiring them to have been stationed in Georgia for a year; however, the paperwork can be filed in any county adjacent to the facility where they are stationed. Non-residents may file on Georgia residents (who meet the six months’ requirement) by filing in the county where the Georgia resident lives.

Furthermore, Georgia provides another wrinkle, as explained by the bar association:

A complaint for divorce should be filed in the superior court of the defendant’s county of residence or, if the defendant [i.e., the respondent, the one who gets “served with the papers”] has recently moved from the state of Georgia, in the county of the plaintiff’s residence. This would be considered the domicile of the marriage. Upon the defendant’s consent, the complaint may be filed in the plaintiff’s county of residence regardless of whether or not the defendant has moved from the state of Georgia.

Find the Superior Court for your jurisdiction by clicking here.

Grounds for divorce

Like all states, Georgia provides a no-fault route to ending marriage. Unlike some states, Georgia retains 12 fault-based grounds;  here’s the state bar’s explanation:

What is a no-fault divorce?

To obtain a divorce on this basis (irretrievably broken), one party must establish that he or she refuses to live with the other spouse and that there is no hope of reconciliation. It is not necessary for both parties to agree the marriage is irretrievably broken. Also, it is not necessary to show that there was any fault or wrongdoing by either party.

What are the fault grounds?

To obtain a divorce on one of the 12 fault grounds, one must prove that there was some wrongdoing by one of the parties to the marriage.

As an example, one fault ground is adultery. Adultery in Georgia includes heterosexual and homosexual relations between one spouse and another individual.

Another fault ground for divorce in Georgia is desertion. A divorce may be granted on the grounds that a person has deserted his or her spouse willfully for at least one year. Other fault grounds include mental or physical abuse, marriage between persons who are too closely related, mental incapacity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, force or fraud in obtaining the marriage, pregnancy of the wife unknown to the husband at the time of the marriage, conviction and imprisonment for certain crimes, habitual intoxication or drug addiction and mental illness.

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