Georgia Divorce Law and Resources
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Georgia have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more expanded understanding concerning this subject.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
To file for a divorce in Georgia, at least one spouse needs to be a resident of the state for six months before filing a petition for divorce.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE – NO FAULT
The following grounds for divorce are recognized in the state of Georgia:
(1) marriage between close blood relations;
(2) Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage;
(3) Impotency at the time of the marriage;
(5) Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband, at the time of the marriage, unknown to the husband;
(6) Adultery in either of the parties after marriage;
(7) Willful and continued desertion by either of the parties for the term of one year;
(8) The conviction of either party for an offense involving moral turpitude, under which he is sentenced to imprisonment in a penal institution for a term of two years or longer;
(9) Habitual intoxication;
(10) Cruel treatment, which shall consist of the willful infliction of pain, bodily or mental, upon the complaining party, such as reasonably justifies apprehension of danger to life, limb, or health;
(11) Incurable mental illness;
(12) Habitual drug addiction, consisting of addiction to any controlled substance.
(13) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
When spouses are living separately, either spouse may petition the court for alimony or child support without having a divorce pending. The other party shall be notified of such a petition, and the judge can grant such an order, to be enforced in the same manner as a divorce.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
In contested divorce cases, the judge may refer the couple to an appropriate alternative dispute resolution program prior to a trial, if such method is reasonably available without additional cost to the parties.
HELPFUL SERVICES & RESOURCES
Georgia is an equitable distribution state. At this time, there are no statutes regarding what the court considers when distributing the property in a divorce case. Generally, the separate property of each spouse shall remain the separate property of that spouse.
Alimony may be awarded on either temporary or permanent basis. A party shall not be entitled to alimony if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the marital discord was caused by that party’s adultery or desertion. Alimony may be awarded in accordance with the needs of the party seeking alimony, and the ability of the other party to pay. Unless otherwise provided, alimony shall end upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. In determining whether or not to grant alimony, the court shall consider evidence of the conduct of each party toward the other.
The following shall be considered in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded:
(1) The standard of living established during the marriage;
(2) The duration of the marriage;
(3) The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
(4) The financial resources of each party;
(5) The time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him to find appropriate employment;
(6) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;
(7) The condition of the parties, including the separate estate, earning capacity, and fixed liabilities of the parties; and
(8) Such other relevant factors as the court deems equitable and proper.
SPOUSES LEGAL NAME:
In all divorce actions, a party may enter a request 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 requested for in the pleadings.
CHILD CUSTODY – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
Custody may be awarded to either parent based on the best interest of the child or children and what will best promote their welfare and happiness. If 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 deemed unfit 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. The court at any temporary or permanent hearing may grant sole custody, joint custody, joint legal custody, or joint physical custody where appropriate.
Child support continues until the child becomes 18 years of age, dies, marries, or otherwise becomes emancipated, except that if the child becomes 18 years of age while enrolled in and attending secondary school on a full-time basis, then such support shall continue until the child completes secondary school, provided that such support shall not be required after the child attains 20 years of age.
Georgia uses an income-shares model to determine the amount of child support.
The court will consider the existence of special circumstances and may adjust child support based on but not limited to:
(1) Ages of the children.
(2) 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.
(3) Educational costs.
(4) Day-care costs.
(5) Shared physical custody arrangements, including extended visitation.
(6) A party´s other support obligations to another household.
(7) Income that should be imputed to a party because of suppression of income.
(8) In-kind income for the self-employed, such as reimbursed meals or a company car.
(9) Other support a party is providing or will be providing, such as payment of a mortgage.
(10) A party´s own extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses.
(11) Extreme economic circumstances including but not limited to: unusually high debt structure or unusually high income of either party or both parties, which shall be construed as individual gross income of over $75,000.00 per annum.
(12) Historical spending in the family for children which varies significantly from the percentage table.
(13) Considerations of the economic cost-of-living factors of the community of each party.
(14) In-kind contribution of either parent.
(15) The income of the custodial parent. (16) The cost of accident and sickness insurance coverage for dependent children included in the order. (17) Extraordinary travel expenses to exercise visitation or shared physical custody. (18) Any other factor which the trier of fact deems to be required by the ends of justice.
ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION:
Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:
FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU