A divorce may be granted in Georgia for 13 no-fault or fault grounds. There is only one no-fault ground, which is irretrievable marriage breakdown. The other 12 grounds for divorce in Georgia are fault grounds, meaning that you must prove that one of the parties to the marriage is guilty of some wrongdoing. The fault grounds in Georgia are:
- adultery (in Georgia, this means heterosexual or homosexual relations between one spouse and another individual)
- willful desertion for at least one year
- mental or physical abuse
- marriage between persons who are too closely related
- mental incapacity at the time of marriage
- impotency at the time of marriage
- force or fraud in obtaining the marriage
- pregnancy of the wife unknown to the husband at the time of the marriage
- conviction of an offense involving moral turpitude and imprisonment for two or more years
- habitual intoxication or drug addiction
- cruel treatment
- incurable mental illness.
In Georgia, the marriage relationship can only be dissolved through a divorce or an annulment; or altered by a decree of separate maintenance granted by the court.
One spouse must have lived in the state of Georgia for at least six months, or Georgia must have been the last domicile of the marriage.
In a divorce, the court declares the marriage contract broken; in an annulment, the court says that there never was a marriage. Annulment is much more difficult to prove – and is much rarer – than divorce. If you want to go this route, you will definitely need to speak to a Georgia divorce attorney. Of course, if you want an annulment for religious reasons, you’ll need to consult with your priest, minister, or rabbi as well. In Georgia, if there were children born of your marriage, you cannot get an annulment; you will have to dissolve your marriage by divorce.
If you wish to live apart from your spouse permanently, but you don’t want to get a divorce, you can file a separate maintenance action: you will remain legally married, but living apart. In this case, the court could order one spouse to pay alimony to the other, and you (or the court) can divide your property between you and your spouse.
You’ll need to provide your divorce lawyer with the following documentation in order to proceed with your divorce. Start gathering everything as soon as possible so that you can find out what might be missing and submit any requests for duplicates. You’ll need both personal data and financial data.
- Full addresses and phone numbers of both parties.
- Full names, birth dates, and addresses of all children of the marriage, their school, and grade.
- Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
- A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g. a prenuptial agreement).
- Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.
- Dates and particulars about any previous separations attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
- Your previous year’s income tax return, and any related data from the IRS.
- Information about your current income – e.g., a current payslip.
- A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses.