Georgia Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get Divorce in Georgia
The spouse filing must have been a resident of Georgia for six months and file for divorce in the county of residence. However, a non-resident may file for divorce against a spouse who has been a resident of Georgia for six months. In such cases, the divorce must be filed for in the county in which the respondent resides. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-2 and 19-5-5 ].
Reasons for Divorce in Georgia
There are mainly two reasons of divorce in Georgia that is fault and general. In order to file for divorce in Georgia, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.
No-fault reasons for divorce in Georgia include:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-3].
General reasons for divorce in Georgia include:
- Conviction of and imprisonment of over two years for an offense involving moral turpitude;
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
- Confinement for incurable insanity;
- Separation caused by mental illness;
- Willful desertion;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment which endangers the life of the spouse;
- Habitual intemperance (drunkenness);
- Consent to marriage was obtained by fraud, duress, or force;
- Spouse lacked mental capacity to consent (including temporary incapacity resulting from drug or alcohol use);
- The wife was pregnant by another at the time of the marriage unknown to the husband; and
- Incest. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-3].
Custody of the Children in Georgia
Joint or sole custody is granted, based upon the best interests of the child and a consideration of the following factors:
- The suitability of each parent as custodian;
- The psychological, emotional, and developmental needs of the child;
- The ability of the parents to communicate with each other;
- The prior and continuing care that the parents have given the child;
- Parental support for the other parent’s relationship with the child;
- The wishes of the child (considering the child’s age and maturity);
- The safety of the child;
- The geographic proximity of the parents;
- Any custodial agreements of the parents; and
- Any history of domestic abuse.
There is a presumption against awarding joint custody in Georgia when there is a history of domestic abuse. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-9-1 to 19-9-51].
Property Distribution in Georgia
Georgia is an “equitable distribution” state. The courts will distribute the marital property including any gifts and inheritances, equitably. There are no factors to be considered specified in the statute. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-13 and Georgia Case Law].
Georgia Spousal Support Guidelines
Permanent or temporary alimony may be awarded to either spouse, unless the separation was caused by that spouse’s desertion or adultery. The following factors are to be considered:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker, in childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The financial resources of each spouse;
- The age and physical and emotional condition of both spouses;
- The value of each spouse’s separate property;
- The earning capacity of each spouse;
- Any fixed liabilities of either spouse;
- The standard of living established during the marriage; and
- The time necessary for a spouse to acquire sufficient education to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-6-1+].
Georgia Child Support Guidelines
Both parents are liable for the support of minor children. The court may award child support from either parent, based on their customary needs and the parents’ ability to pay. There are no specific factors for consideration set out in the statute. However, there are official child support guidelines set out in the statute that are to be followed in all cases in which the parents are not able to reach an agreement. In such cases there are factors which will be followed in special circumstances. The special circumstances include:
- The age of the children;
- A child’s medical costs or extraordinary needs;
- Educational costs;
- Daycare costs;
- Shared physical custody arrangements;
- A parent’s support obligations to another household;
- Hidden income of a parent;
- The income of the parent with custody;
- Contributions of the parents;
- Extreme economic circumstances;
- A parent’s own extraordinary needs;
- Historic spending levels of the family;
- The cost of health and accident insurance coverage for the child; and
- Any extraordinary visitation travel expenses. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-12, 19-6-14, and 19-6-15.].
The court may refer any contested divorce to alternative dispute resolution. [Code of Georgia Annotated; 19-5-1].