What are the grounds for divorce in Georgia?

In Georgia there are thirteen grounds for divorce. One ground is “irretrievably broken”  (sometimes referred to as the “no-fault ground).  The other twelve grounds for divorce are fault grounds.

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 not hope of reconciliation.  It is not necessary to show that there was any fault or wrongdoing by either party.

Is there a residence requirement for getting a divorce in Georgia?

Yes, one spouse must have lived in the Sate of Georgia for 6 months or Georgia must have been the last docile of the marriage.

How does one “file for a divorce”?

The person seeking the divorce (The Plaintiff) will file a complaint with the appropriate Superior Court.  The Complaint includes information on the marriage including present living arrangements, children of the marriage, assets and debts, and the specific reason claimed for seeking a divorce.  A copy of the Complaint will be served on the other spouse (The Defendant) by a representative of the Sheriff’s Department.

What should I do if I receive a Complaint for Divorce that my spouse has filed?

The spouse who receives the Complaint should promptly consult a layer.  The spouse may contest the reason claimed for the divorce or contest the claims for child custody, child support, alimony, or property division by filing an Answer with the court.  If however, an Answer within 30 days the right to contest may be lost.

Must I go to court to get a divorce?  

Not necessarily.  Spouses may be able to reach an agreement resolving all issues arising from the marriage, including finances, division of property , and custody and visitation of children.  The agreement is presented to the Court as a Settlement Agreement and upon approval, made an Order of the Court.  The Court’s order, called a Final Decree, concludes the lawsuit.  If however the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the issues will be resolved by the judge or the jury. However, a judge always decides matters of child custody and visitation.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

If both parties are in agreement, the divorce is considered uncontested,  An uncontested divorce may be granted 31 days after the Defendant has been served with the Complaint for Divorce.  If the parties involved are in disagreement as to any matter, the divorce will be obtained when the cases reaches the Court, which can take many months.

What are child support obligations?

In Georgia both parties are required to support their children until a child reaches 29, dies or graduates from high school, marries, or joins the military.  Whichever event occurs first.  The noncustodial parent will be required to pay a reasonable amount of support to the custodial parent towards the child’s living expenses.  Child support, in addition to a monthly or weekly sum may also include such items as health insurance and payment of medical and dental expenses.

Child Support Guidelines went into effect on July 1, 1989.  These guidelines establish an amount of child support as a percentage range of gross income of the noncustodial parent, based upon the number of children.  For one child the percentage range is 17-23% of the gross income of the noncustiodial parent; for two children, the percentage range is

25-28%; for three children the range is 25-32%; for four children, 25-35%; and for five or more children, 31-37%.  The court can deviate from the guidelines in allocating child support based on factors that include the ages of the children, day care costs, education costs, amount of debt, and obligations to another household. 

If my spouse and I agree on all matters pertaining to getting a divorce, do we still need a lawyer?

A lawyer will ensure that all matter that should be resolved in a divorce are resolved.  Acting without a lawyer could end up being a costly mistake both to the parties involved and to their children.

Licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia

James R. Argo Jr. All Rights Reserved.

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