What Must You Do Before Filing for Divorce in Georgia?

You’ve made up your mind. You’ve done everything reasonable to save your marriage, but it’s become clear that the best thing for you and your kids is to divorce your spouse. How do you get things started?

The short answer is to call a quality family law attorney. While that is absolutely the smartest move, you should be aware of some prerequisites, for lack of a better term, before filing for divorce in Georgia.

Grounds for Divorce

Spouses in Georgia may file for divorce on the grounds that their marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This is the no-fault option for couples, and it is used in the majority of cases. There are also a dozen fault-based grounds for divorce in Georgia, including for reasons of adultery, conviction of a crime of “moral turpitude,” habitual alcohol intoxication, habitual controlled substance drug addiction, and others.

Residency Requirements

To get a no-fault divorce, you or your spouse must reside in Georgia for a minimum of six months immediately before filing for divorce. You are not required to live in the same county for those six months. When you are ready to file for divorce in Superior Court, with a few exceptions, you must file in the county where your spouse lives. In rare cases, Georgia spouses may file for divorce where they are regularly employed or have a business. In the event you do not know where your spouse resides, you may ask the court to allow service by publication in the newspaper in the county of his/her last known address.

Military Divorce Residency Requirements

Military personnel who are stationed in Georgia and are non-residents may file for divorce after having lived in the state for 12 months. These individuals must be domiciled in Georgia, which means their home in which they intend to permanently reside is in the state. 

Proving Residency in Georgia

Most of the time, spouses must simply attest, in a sworn complaint, that they satisfy the residency requirements for filing a divorce in Georgia. There are many ways you can prove your Georgia residency, such as showing income tax returns, utility bills, voter registration cards, and driver’s licenses.

After Filing the Complaint For Divorce

After you have identified the county and Superior Court where you should file for divorce, your spouse must be served with the legal papers. There is no “default judgment” for divorce in Georgia, but if your spouse does not respond or appear, you simply present your case and the court will issue a final judgment and decree. Regardless of whether your spouse responds or not, Georgia law requires a 31-day waiting period between filing for a no-fault divorce and having a final hearing.

While the information covered in this blog can help you determine whether or not you are able to get a divorce in Georgia, it is, by no means, everything you need to know before filing. There is plenty of work to do beforehand. A skilled family law attorney is your best resource during your divorce, and The Anderson Firm would be honored to represent you. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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