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Georgia Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – Georgia

Notes:  This summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in the State of Georgia, but does contain basic and other procedures.


Grounds for divorce
A divorce may be granted in the State of Georgia on the following grounds:
1. Incest;
2. Mental incapacity at the time of marriage;
3. Impotency at the time of marriage;
4. Force, menace, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage;
5. Pregnancy of the wife by one other than the husband at the
time of marriage, unknown to the husband;
6. Adultery by either party;
7. Willful and continued desertion by either party for one
8. Conviction and imprisonment for at least two years for a
crime of moral turpitude;
9. Habitual intoxication or drug addiction;
10. Cruel treatment;
11. Incurable mental illness;
12. The marriage is irretrievably broken. CGA  19-5-3

Waiting period
A divorce based upon the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage shall not be granted until at least 30 days have elapsed from the date of service upon the respondent. CGA 19-5-3

Residency requirements
The party filing for divorce must have been an actual and bona fide resident of the State of Georgia for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition for divorce and such divorce action shall be filed in that party’s county of residence.  If the filing party is a non-resident of the State of Georgia and the other spouse has been a resident of the state for six months, the filing party may file the petition in the county in which the other party resides.  CGA 19-5-2

Name of court and title of action/parties
An action for divorce is filed with the Superior Court. The action initiating the divorce proceeding is the Petition, while the action granting the divorce is referred to as the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce. The filing party is called the Petitioner, while the other spouse is referred to as the Respondent. CGA 19-5-1,19-5-5

Simplified divorce proceeding
There are no provisions within the State of Georgia for simplified divorce proceedings.

Legal separation
When the spouses are separated, the State of Georgia permits either party to petition the court for support on that party’s behalf or on the behalf of any minor children of the marriage.  CGA 19-6-10

In any county with alternative dispute resolution programs, the court may refer all contested petitions for divorce to those programs. In addition, in counties without such programs, the court may still refer any disputed divorce case to participate in any reasonably available alternative dispute resolution program as it sees fit. CGA 19-5-1

Alimony may be awarded to either spouse on either a permanent or temporary basis in accordance with that party’s needs and the other party’s ability to pay, although a party is not entitled to alimony if the court determines that the cause of the spouses separation was due to that party’s adultery or desertion.  The amount of alimony will be determined by the court after consideration of the following factors:
1. The standard of living established during the marriage;
2. The duration of the marriage;
3. The age, physical and emotional condition of both parties;
4. The financial resources of each party;
5. The time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient
education and training to find suitable employment;
6. The contribution of each spouse to the marriage;
7. The condition of the parties, including the separate estate,
earning capacity and fixed liabilities of each party;
8. Any other factor the court deems relevant and just.

Distribution of property
The court will distribute the marital property of the parties between them as it deems equitable and just, after setting aside to each spouse that party’s separate property.

Child Custody
The issue of custody of any minor children of the marriage will be determined by the best interests of the child. The court shall not prefer one party over the other on the basis of sex.  The court will consider instances of domestic violence in determining custody and may also order a psychological or medical evaluation of the family as it deems necessary. CGA 19-9-3

Child support
Either party may be ordered to pay child support. Georgia has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptively correct amount of support to be paid. Deviation from these guidelines require a specific written finding on the record of the proceeding that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust in the particular case.  The record must further state what the amount of support would have been under the guidelines. Justification for deviation from the guidelines include such things as:
1. The ages of the children;
2. Educational costs;
3. A child’s extraordinary medical costs;
4. Day-care costs;
5. Shared physical custody arrangements;
6. A party’s support obligation to another household;
7. Income that should be attributed to a party because of that
party’s artificial suppression of income;
8. In-kind income for the self-employed;
9. Other support a party is willing to provide;
10. A party’s own extraordinary expenses;
11. Extreme economic circumstances;
12. Historical spending in the family for children;
13. Cost of living factors;
14. Any other factor the court deems to be required by the ends
of justice.

The duty of support shall continue until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries or becomes emancipated, whichever occurs first. The court may, however, under certain circumstances, order the continued support of a child who is enrolled in a secondary school until the child reaches the age of twenty.

The court may also order a party to provide medical insurance for the child if such insurance is reasonably available.

Name change
In all divorce actions, upon request, the court may restore a party to a former or maiden name. CGA 19-5-16

Inside Georgia Divorce Law