Georgia

Georgia Divorce & Family Law Information

Complaint for Divorce

When seeking to file for divorce, the person seeking the divorce (the “plaintiff” or “petitioner”) must file a document in the appropriate Superior Court. This document is called the Complaint for Divorce.

Complaints contain information concerning the marriage such as current living arrangements, children of the marriage, description of marital assets and debts, and the specific reason(s) for seeking divorce.

In Georgia there are 13 grounds for divorce. One ground is “irretrievably broken” which in Georgia, is known as the “no-fault” ground.

The remaining 12 grounds for divorce are considered the “fault” grounds. The fault grounds are typically used when trying to allege some misconduct of the other party including adultery. Adultery in Georgia includes sexual relations between one spouse and another individual.

Other “fault” grounds include desertion; mental incapacity at the time of marriage; impotency at the time of marriage; force or fraud in obtaining the marriage; conviction and imprisonment for certain crimes; mental or physical cruel treatment; habitual intoxication or drug addiction; and mental illness.

After the Complaint has been completed and filed with the appropriate court, a copy of the complaint will be served on the other spouse (the “defendant” or “respondent”) by a sheriff of the appropriate county, or, in the alternative, that spouse may acknowledge service by signing a specific document in the presence of a notary public.

Generally, at least one spouse must be living in Georgia and have lived in Georgia for at least six months prior to the filing of a Complaint for Divorce. The Complaint for Divorce should be filed in the Superior Court of the defendant’s county of residence with the defendant’s consent, or if defendant had previously lived with plaintiff and has been gone for less than six months, the complaint may be filed in the plaintiff’s county of residence.

A requirement that must be alleged in the Complaint for Divorce is that the parties are living in a bona-fide state of separation and that there is no hope for reconciliation. Spouses may generally be considered separated even if they live under the same roof as long as they are not having sexual relations.

Attorneys will typically advise clients to stay in the marital residence until the court orders otherwise. After the filing, a party may seek a temporary hearing which will resolve issues that need to be addressed immediately, such as, child support, custody, visitation and maintenance of the marital obligations including but not limited to, house, car and credit card payments.

Georgia Child Custody

In Georgia, there are two types of custody: legal and physical child custody.  Unless one parent is deemed unfit, parties will generally be awarded joint legal custody of the child(ren).

When making the ultimate determination as to both legal and physical custody at the end of the case, the judge will consider many factors including the age and sex of the child, and the ability of each parent to care for and nurture the child, ultimately using the “best interest of the child” standard.

In Georgia, a child who has reached 14 years of age may sign an Affidavit of Election stating the preference of the child with whom they wish to live. The Judge will give tremendous weight to a child of 14 or older wishes, although the best interest standard will still be used.

Georgia Child Support

In Georgia, both parents can be required to provide assistance to their children until a child reaches the age of 18 years if not in high school, graduates from high school if eighteen (18) years or older, reaches the age of 20 years and is still in high school, dies, marries, is emancipated or joins the military, whichever event occurs first.

The non-custodial parent will generally be required to provide a reasonable amount of child support to the custodial parent to assist with living expenses. Child support may also include health insurance, payment of medical and dental expenses, and life insurance.

Child Support Guidelines are in effect in Georgia. The guidelines are located in the Official Code of Georgia in section 19-6-15. A calculation will need to be made to determine the appropriate amount of child support.

Georgia Child Support Calculator

The amount can vary based on various factors including time the non-custodial parent spends with the child(ren), the ages of the child(ren), day care costs, medical costs, education costs, significant income or debt of either party, and obligations to another household.

Alimony in Georgia

Alimony is a support payment by one spouse to another which, based upon various factors may be appropriate in a particular case. Alimony is generally not available to a spouse who caused the dissolution of the marriage by their adultery or desertion. Alimony may be for a limited time period or until the spouse receiving alimony dies or remarries, or may be paid in one lump sum.

With so many complex issues, it is important to consult with an attorney prior to your divorce to ensure that your rights are properly protected and advocated.