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What are Legal Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?

by Sharon Jackson  on May 13, 2021 under 

Georgia is a hybrid state when it comes to establishing fault in divorce cases. It has a no-fault option known as “the 13th ground,” which allows couples to obtain a divorce just by showing that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that reconciliation is no longer possible. 

Each of the 12 other fault-based grounds is essentially a reason that one spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Although it’s not required for a spouse to allege one or more of these grounds, doing so can make a difference in how issues like alimony or child custody are decided.

Going through a divorce? Contact an experienced divorce lawyer as early as possible to make sure you’re protected.  

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-5-1, there are 13 legal grounds for divorce. These are:

  1. Marriage between two people who are too closely related: Intermarriage between a mother and son/stepson father and daughter/stepdaughter, brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, grandparent and grandchild is prohibited.
  2. Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage.
  3. Impotence at the time of the marriage.
  4. Force, fraud, duress, or menace: A party was forced, coerced, fraudulently induced, or threatened to get married. Without such threat or fraud, they would not have willingly entered into the marriage.
  5. Cruelty: One spouse physically or mentally abuses the other.
  6. Adultery: A person engages in sexual intercourse with a person that is not their spouse.
  7. Pregnancy: At the time of the marriage, the husband is unaware that his wife is carrying the child of another man.
  8. Desertion: A spouse willfully abandons the other or moves out of the marital home.
  9. Mental illness: This must be incurable. This has strict requirements including a formal testimony from at least 2 psychiatric doctors or professionals and a record of being institutionalized.
  10. Habitual intoxication.
  11. Habitual drug abuse.
  12. Conviction of a crime of moral turpitude: This type of crime involves malicious intent and may either be a misdemeanor offense or a felony.
  13. Irretrievably broken marriage: Through no fault of either party, the marriage can no longer be continued or fixed.

To obtain a divorce based on any of the first 12 grounds, the petitioner must prove the other party’s fault or conduct. 

Do the Grounds Affect the Outcome of the Case?

The most common legal ground used by divorcing couples in Georgia is the 13th. These are typically low-conflict uncontested divorces. In contested divorces, however, the details surrounding the alleged grounds typically play a significant role in how the case gets settled.

Some grounds can offer the petitioner a strategic advantage during certain proceedings. For example, if the respondent is found to have committed adultery, the court may deny or reduce the amount of alimony.

Considering a Divorce? Find the Right Representation Today

If you have questions or concerns about dissolving your marriage, get in touch with an experienced family law attorney. 

Sharon Jackson will guide you through the process of identifying which grounds apply to your case and help ensure that your rights are well-protected. 

Contact us now at (678) 661-6969 to schedule a discreet personal consultation.

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