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Does Georgia Require Separation Before Divorce?

by Sharon Jackson  on November 17, 2021 under 

A legal separation occurs when a couple decides to live separately and apart without going through the formal process of divorce. The state of Georgia does not recognize the concept of legal separation. This means that the court cannot grant an action requesting legal separation. Under the law, it’s possible for the couple to continue to live together as long as they suspend marital relations with the intention to divorce.

Although Georgia does not recognize legal separation, the state does provide couples an alternative to absolute divorce - separate maintenance. 

What is separate maintenance in Georgia?

Separate maintenance is similar to traditional divorce in the sense that the court allows the couple to live separately and resolve alimony, child support, and child custody issues. However, the couple stays legally married until one of them files a divorce petition in court. Furthermore, in a separate maintenance claim, the court cannot divide or award property.

To qualify for separate maintenance, the couple has to demonstrate the following:

  • That neither party filed for divorce
  • That both parties are living separately
  • That both parties are legally married

What are the benefits of separate maintenance?

The decision to file for divorce or separate maintenance is personal and varies from couple to couple. Here are some of the reasons why couples in Georgia choose to file a separate maintenance action:

  • Some couples may encounter an issue that they can’t get past at the moment but aren’t prepared to get an absolute divorce. Separate maintenance is a viable option when it might be possible for them to reconcile. 
  • It may also be a good choice for couples who practice a religion that prohibits divorce.
  • Separate maintenance may also work for couples who need to stay married to continue receiving health insurance benefits.
  • Filing taxes jointly may also allow the couple to maximize their tax benefits.
  • Staying married may allow the couple to secure loans and mortgages more easily.
  • The couple may need to stay together to secure or maintain Social Security or military benefits.

How long do you have to be separated in Georgia before divorce?

Under Georgia law, there are different requirements that couples have to fulfill before a divorce decree can be issued. For instance, they should meet the state’s residency requirements, service of process, and cooling off period. There is, however, no requirement for the couple to live separately before they file for divorce. Essentially, there is no required timeframe of separation before one of the parties can file a divorce petition.

Find An Experienced Georgia Divorce Attorney Now

If you’re wondering whether divorce or separate maintenance is the right choice for you, get in touch with a qualified and experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Your divorce attorney will help you obtain the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Our team at Sharon Jackson can help you with your case. We have years of experience fighting for our client’s best interests and helping them make tough decisions. Call us now at (678) 909-4100 to schedule a confidential consultation.


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