LEGAL SEPARATION IN GEORGIA
What is legal separation in Georgia?
Legal separation is a way to end a marriage other than an annulment and divorce. After separation, the parties are still married at the end. In other words, a legal separation is a court order that instructs the rights and responsibilities of a married couple while they are living separately.
Filing for Divorce in Georgia
Most states offer legal separation as an alternative to divorce. Technically, in Georgia, there is no specific statute devoted to legal separation. However, there is something very similar to legal separation in Georgia, known as separate maintenance.
What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
Legal separation does not end a marriage, whereas divorce does end a marriage. Legal separation determines the same issues as a divorce does (alimony, custody, etc.), but at the end you are still married. At the end of a legal separation proceeding, you may not re-marry. On the other hand, at the end of a divorce, you may re-marry.
How does separate maintenance work in Georgia?
- Spousal support (i.e. alimony/maintenance)
- Marital property
- Marital debts
- Custody of children
- Visitation of children
- Child support
- Temporary restraining orders (not applicable in all cases)
What is the effect of legal separation/separate maintenance?
The effect of a legal separation is not that the marriage is ended. Instead, the individuals are merely separated, but still legally married. Legal separation only determines the issues surrounding the marriage (e.g. custody, alimony, etc.). Accordingly, the couple must follow the court orders laid out regarding property, spousal support, child custody, and more.
What about alimony and property division in a legal separation/separate maintenance?
Alimony and property division are treated the same as in a divorce. Both issues may be determined by the judge in a legal separation, just like a divorce. In addition to alimony and property division, the court may also make decisions regarding debts, custody of children, visitation of children, and child support.
Why file for separate maintenance/legal separation over divorce?
Getting a legal separation over a divorce is a personal decision. Some people may be lead to get a legal separation instead of a divorce for religious reasons. Some may choose to get a legal separation to avoid the social stigma of divorce. Others may wish to separate, but not actually end the marriage. Or legal separation may be chosen to allow the other spouse insurance or pension benefits that they would have lost in the divorce. Whatever the reason is, it is completely a personal choice.
What are the benefits of legal separation/separate maintenance?
Should I hire a lawyer for a legal separation/separate maintenance?
Georgia divorce laws can be compliicated and it is always advisable to hire an attorney. While it is not a requirement to hire a lawyer for a legal separation, divorce, or annulment, it is highly recommended for all three. To get the most desirable outcome for your case, hiring a lawyer is crucial. Without a lawyer, you must fill out and file all of the correct paperwork, appear in front of a judge on behalf of yourself, and correspond with the opposing party’s lawyer. Additionally, most people are not familiar with Georgia family law, so unrepresented parties may oversee certain rights that they are entitled to.
Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Separation”
Filing for divorce in Georgia begins by submitting a Complaint of Divorce against the opposing party to the clerk of Superior Court in the county where they reside.