Basics of Georgia Divorce Law You May Want to Know Before Meeting with A Family Law Attorney
Here are five areas of Georgia Divorce you will want to be aware of:
- Georgia Residency Requirements for Divorce
- Legal Grounds for Divorce in Georgia
- Child Custody and Visitation Laws
- Property Division
- Child and Spousal Support
Georgia Residency Requirements for Divorce:
Georgia will not grant a divorce to a family unless at least one of the spouses has been a Georgia resident for at least six months. Divorce for enlisted soldiers and their spouses are a bit different. If at least one spouse has been a resident of any US army post or military reservation within the state of Georgia within the last year, the couple may file for divorce in the county adjacent to the military post or reservation.
Legal Grounds for Divorce in Georgia:
Georgia divorce laws include 12 fault-based grounds for divorce as well as guidelines for a “no-fault” divorce. A “no-fault” divorce is where one spouse states that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and is grounds for divorce in Georgia. Oftentimes the fault-based grounds for divorce can give a spouse an advantage with respect to issues such as custody and alimony. The 12 fault-based grounds for a divorce in Georgia are a follows:
Adultery (by either spouse)
“Willful and continued desertion” for one year
Conviction (and imprisonment for two years or longer) of either spouse for an offense involving moral turpitude
Discovery of incestual relationship between spouses
Mental incapacity when the marriage occurred
Marriage by force, menace, duress or fraud
Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than the husband when the marriage occurred
Habitual drug addiction
Willful infliction of physical or mental pain upon the complaining spouse
Incurable mental illness
Child Custody and Visitation Laws in Georgia:
Georgia courts begin with the assumption that a child’s best interest is best served by having a custodial relationship with both parents. In situations of physical abuse or drug abuse, the court will often decide against joint custody. The overarching concern of the court is to determine child custody and visitation based upon the best interests of the child or children.
Property Division in Georgia Law:
Georgia is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that spouses must divide all marital property “fairly”. Fairly does not necessarily mean equally.
Property to be divided includes all assets the couple acquired during their marriage. This includes gifts given to one another, as well as appreciation of property through efforts of one or both spouses.
Non-marital property includes property inherited or received as a gift from a third-party. Non-marital property is generally exempt from division of property, though a spouse may need to prove that the property in question is indeed “non-marital”. Other issues can arise if the non-marital property was commingled with marital property, which my subsequently render all of it marital.
Child Support and Spousal Support (Alimony):
Georgia courts are not required to award spousal support. If it can be proves that a spouse committed adultery or deserted the family, and either of these was the cause for the divorce, the deserting or adulterating spouse should not receive alimony pursuant to Georgia law. In general, alimony is determined based on the conduct of each spouse. The receiving spouse’s decision to remarry or not to do so also has an impact.
Obligations for child support are treated independently from alimony decisions. In general, a parent must pay child support until the child reaches 18, graduates high school, gets married, becomes emancipated, or dies. Usually, a parent’s obligation to pays child support will last until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates high school, whichever comes first.
Other Important Factors in Georgia Divorce Decisions:
Paternity issues, annulments, prenuptial agreements, and alimony in military cases are just a few of the other issues which may have a large impact on divorce decisions. For more information, please contact The Schachter Law Firm, LLC to arrange a meeting with one of our Divorce Law and Family Law attorneys at 912-233-8883.