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Georgia Divorce Laws: The Basics

Georgia divorce laws can be tricky, but no trickier than any other state. If you and your spouse have decided to file for divorce, at least one of you must have lived in Georgia for at least six months before you file for divorce.

Georgia Laws: Divorce Grounds

If you can agree with your spouse that there are "irreconcilable differences" and you both want a divorce, you may be able to agree in writing to end the marriage. If you do not agree that you should get a divorce, the spouse who wants the divorce must prove one of the following grounds for divorce:

  • Impotency at the time of marriage
  • Adultery
  • Desertion for more than a year
  • Either spouse being convicted of a felony
  • Drug addiction or continuous intoxication
  • An incurable mental illness
  • Cruel treatment that puts either spouse in danger
  • The wife being pregnant by another man at the time of marriage, but the husband didn't know

Filing for Divorce in Georgia

The divorce process will be legally started when either spouse files a Petition for Divorce with the county Superior Court. The court will then serve the other spouse with the divorce papers. He or she will be given time to respond. You will have to wait 30 days after the other spouse is served with papers for the court to grant a divorce.

If you and your spouse agree how to split any assets or debts, your divorce can be finalized without a trial. But if you can't agree, the court will set a date for a hearing. After you file the petition, either party can ask for temporary custody or child support orders from the court. The court or Georgia divorce attorneys may also be able to help you figure out who will pay shared debt while you wait for the divorce to be finalized.

Georgia Laws: Divorce and Dividing Property

In Georgia, any assets (belongings or money) and debts that were amassed during the marriage will be divided equitably, or fairly. (This does not necessarily mean equally.) Keep in mind that if one spouse inherited property during the marriage or was given gifts during the marriage, these are not considered community or marital property. Judges will consider factors such as each party's assets and financial status, income or earning capacity, and each party's debts. Gathering your financial documents before meeting with Georgia divorce attorneys will help speed up the process.

Georgia Laws: Divorce and Alimony

The court may order alimony (also known as spousal support), depending on how long you were married, how much money each party is making, and the earning capability of each party. If one spouse took time off from work during the marriage, the court may consider how long it will take for that party to get appropriate training or education to find employment.

Georgia Laws: Divorce and Child Custody

In Georgia, the court will decide on child custody based on the best interest of the child if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement.

The court may either grant sole custody or joint custody. Some things the court will consider include the character, personality, and health of the parents. If there has been any history of domestic abuse, the court will usually not grant joint custody.

Depending on the child's age and maturity, the court may take the child's preferences into account. After the judge signs the custody order and files it with the court clerk, both parents are bound to the order.

Georgia Laws: Divorce and Child Support

In the state of Georgia, child support is based on the gross income of the parent who doesn't have custody and how many children he or she is responsible for supporting. For one child, the parent may pay 17 to 23 percent of his or her gross income; for five or more children, the parent may pay between 31 and 37 percent of his or her gross income. If either parent's financial status changes drastically, the court may readjust a child support order.

Georgia Divorce: Free Resources

If you are trying to save yourself time and money in your divorce process, free Georgia divorce resources such as Georgia divorce forms will give you an idea of what you will be in for.