Family Law FAQs
We try to keep an ongoing list of concise responses to common questions. However, these responses are no substitute for legal advice. Please contact us directly if you have an issue you need assistance with.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?
There are thirteen separate grounds for divorce set out in the Georgia Code. In the past, you used to have to show some sort of fault or bad conduct on the part of your spouse in order to obtain a divorce in Georgia, such as infidelity, cruel treatment, or habitual intoxication. In 1973, the Georgia General Assembly added a thirteenth ground for divorce: “The marriage is irretrievably broken.” With that addition, Georgia officially became a “no fault” divorce state. As the Georgia Supreme Court stated in the case of Harwell v. Harwell, a party pleading that their marriage is irretrievably broken is simply saying ” that their marital differences are insoluble and request a change of status.” Generally speaking, parties requesting a divorce only need to plead that their marriage is “irretrievably broken” although the other statutory grounds can be asserted if applicable.
Can I Get a Legal Separation in Georgia?
Georgia law does not technically recognize a legal separation. A “legal” separation really just means that parties have intentionally suspended their marital relationship, usually in anticipation of divorce. Separated parties can enter into an agreement that will settle all of their marital rights and obligation, such as custody, visitation, and child support. This agreement can be enforced as a contract even if the parties to not pursue a divorce action; however, oftentimes the parties will ask a court to incorporate this agreement into a divorce decree. If a divorce case is filed, the agreement entered into by the parties is not binding upon a court, and a judge can refuse to incorporate the agreement into a divorce decree.
What county do I file my divorce case in?
The legal term for where a case my be filed is “venue.” In divorce cases, venue is governed by the Georgia Constitution. The Georgia Constitution requires that all actions for divorce be filed in the county where the defendant resides if he or she is a resident of Georgia. If the defendant is not a resident of Georgia, then the divorce may be filed in the county where the plaintiff resides. Also, a divorce case may be filed in the county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant has moved from that same county within six months from the date of the filing and that county was where the parties were living at the time of their separation.
How is Child Support Calculated in Georgia?
As of January 1, 2007, child support calculations in Georgia are based on an “income shares” model that takes into account the income of both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent. The Georgia Code contains a large table that tells us what the support obligation will be for a given number of children based upon the combined income of their parents. That support obligation is then divided between the parents based upon their proportionate share of the combined income. Take for example a mother who makes $6000 a month and father who makes $4000 a month. Their combined income is $10,000 a month, and the support table in the Georgia Code tell us that their obligation for one child is $1,259.00 per month. If the husband is the noncustodial parent, he would pay 40% of that support obligation (or $503.60 per month) because that is his proportionate share of the parties’ combined income. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that affect child support calculations, but this is the basic premise of the income shares model.